Just as Seagate is getting back to health after a year of recovery, it has been accused of destroying evidence pertinent to a 10-year old noise reduction technology lawsuit instigated against it by Convolve and MIT. In the 1990s, MIT academics developed "input shaping" vibration and noise reduction technology that steadied a …
How can a patented technology be secret?
I thought the whole point of patents was to encourage full disclosure in exchange for a time-limited government granted monopoly on the product described in the patent.
If the technology is patented, why do Seagate need an NDA and "secret" details?
Patent or trade secret?
"Details of the patented technology were provided under non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to both Seagate and Compaq - now part of HP - in 1998...Convolve filed a patent infringement suite in mid-2000 which MIT was involved in as the originating technology licensor...Paul Galloway, has signed an affidavit alleging that Seagate broke the terms of the NDA."
If patented, then it's public information. It is fundamentally wrong to expect both NDA protection and patent protection on the same technology at the same time.
Patents and Trade Secrets
Usually patents contain only brief and basic information about the technology.
In most complex cases, the devil is in the detail of implementation, and that implementation is typically held as trade-secret kind of IP.
Left under what circumstances?
This reeks of bad blood between an employee and employer, it's the sort of thing a spiteful employee who is sacked or laid off unexpectedly might resort to. Or the guy is a genuine 100% honest person who thinks he should be doing the right thing. Oh wait, if that were true then he would have said "screw the Seagate job" and come clean about it to the authorities in the first place, I'm sure he'd have got a job at Convolve out of it.
Don't know the guy so no idea what sort of person he really is. I'm just calling it like I see it.
Interesting that Mr. Galloway never thought to back up his system, leaving a copy in an obscure cabinet we it wouldn't also have been destroyed. Of course, carrying a copy out would have violated all kinds of trade secret laws...
As to the "patented == public", the key word there is details. I may be able to patent a device that levitates a battleship with only a 9V battery as a power source--the details of how that's done (electronic circuits, rare earth compounds, how coils are wound, naquadah reactor, etc) do _not_ have to be disclosed, and can remain trade secrets. That's what the NDA applies to.
Point of Order
A patent requires details of how to do it, not necessarily the same thing as details of how you do it. So typically the patent will contain the worst possible implementation is what is patented.
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