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back to article WD slips bullet between teeth, gets ready to hand $706 MEELLION to Seagate

Western Digital is preparing to pay Seagate $706 million for using Seagate trade secrets. Needless to say WD is appealing against the Arbitration Court’s decision in favour of Seagate but may have to cough up the readies if its petition for review with the Minnesota Supreme Court fails. If that happens then WD’s net income for …

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I hope this means their quality won't drop even further...

Seriously, when a hard drive fails at work, I usually know I'm going to see a WD label on it, especially their "blue" series when I get the drive out. Not sure what happened there, but it's gotten to the point that I won't even purchase a WD drive for a replacement or new build. Seagate's "Momentus" line hasn't exactly inspired of late either...

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Re: I hope this means their quality won't drop even further...

Funny: I've seen exactly the same comment about Seagate drives. And HGST and Toshiba drives.

What's really going on is bad luck and (especially) bad batch problems. EVERY manufacturer will occasionally and inevitably ship a batch of product containing one of a batch of faulty components. If you buy a batch of drives, or a batch of PCs containing drives from the same batch, then if you get two or more premature failures in the batch, you should assume that the whole lot are likely going the same way. In particular, complain in writing during the warranty period, requesting that all the implicated drives are swapped. The vendor will almost certainly refuse, but should your fears be realized you can later prove that the merchandise was not of saleable quality, and that you pointed this out BEFORE the warranty expiry but were given the brush-off.

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Re: I hope this means their quality won't drop even further...

They've ALL been crap since the Thai Floods, if not slightly before.

Makers discovered they could reduce build quality, cut warranties and raise prices yet people would STILL buy the damn things (pricing at what the market will bear) when there are only 3 makers left in the market.

SSDs are more reliable but people buy on pricing, not TCO.

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Re: I hope this means their quality won't drop even further...

It may be too early to say SSDs are more reliable. That they less often die a week after purchase is true, but that just reflects no moving parts. The other side of the coin is that an SSD may be far more likely than a hard disk to go from AOK to brick "just like that" with no warning of any sort. I'll have a better idea 3 years hence, because ....

We're now specifying SSDs for desktop systems where the user stores nothing locally. However, for storing multiple Terabytes, there's no alternative to using an HD (or an array of HDs).

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Go

I havent read the background detail to the story

But it sounds like WD hired a pro from a rival company and that guy then fabricated data so that he could use what he had learned at Seagate to help WD. Was WD actually aware that the guy had fabricated these notes, or at least had suscpicions?

If not, being penalised 600 million seems bloody harsh. Especially if the information he brought only allowed WD to get to market with a product "months" before they would have any way. OK I can maybe see them being punished with revenues from the products that incorporated this technology for lets say a year. But hitting them with a 600 million fine when they only made 400 million profit seems harsh. It doesnt sound like they went out of their way to steal the tech. Unless of course they knew (or had strong suspiciouns) that the guy had fabricated the claims that the tech was in the public domain, in which case the sum may be reasonable, but still...

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Re: I havent read the background detail to the story

"Especially if the information he brought only allowed WD to get to market with a product "months" before they would have any way"

In tech sales terms, "months" can feel like years. Being first to market with a product has a massive impact on sales.

But hitting them with a 600 million fine when they only made 400 million profit seems harsh

A 400 million profit in the quarter. Stealing this tech would allow them to make a profit over several quarters on something which wasn't theirs to sell.

The amount seems justified given the level of R&D required to get the tech in the first place.

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Big Brother

I would pay good money...

...to be a fly on the wall in Dr. Mao's next performance review:

"Achievements: Several new and innovative improvements to blah, blah, blah...

Room for improvement: Losing the company $706 million by acting like an unprofessional idiot.

Recommendations: Firing squad. The one with the really *big* guns."

GJC

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Quality drop

In my experience, the reverse is true, in 5 years of building servers, we've had multiple Seagate failures, WD on the other hand have been 99.999% reliable, we gave up on Seagate enterprise drives 2 years ago and have had only 1 WD drive fail, we're still having to replace failing Seagates on an almost daily basis, and having questioned Seagate on the dreadful failure rate, we've yet to receive any reply... Customer service= Fail

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Re: Quality drop

In my personal experience, I've learned to avoid Seagates. Many times, I have drives that are extremely slow to wake or suddenly reseek in mid-transfer. I currently keep a number of USB external hard drives. Two of them are showing signs of starting to fail (one them basically goes kaboom the moment it hits a certain part of the drive--once that happens it stops responding until I reset it). BOTH are Seagates. That has NEVER happened to me with a Maxtor or a WD.

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Re: Quality drop

That has NEVER happened to me with a Maxtor or a WD.

Wouldn't have bothered to say "batch problem" yet again if you hadn't mentioned that defunct manufacturer Maxtor. Theirs were the only drives that I am convinced were truly defective by design, not just one batch. I suffered multiple failures on multiple sizes and models of drive purchased over a 2-3 year spread and decided never to buy another of their drives if I had any choice. That their finances collapsed and they were bought up for a pittance shortly afterwards confirmed my opinion of them.

And now I find someone who thinks Maxtor was wonderful. Well I never.

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Meh

Re: Quality drop, @Nigel11

Interestingly enough, I have used a lot of Maxtor drives through the decades, as well as all other large brands; the Maxtors were never the fastest drives, but I have never had one fail. I remember the controller problems from the early 90s (couldn't use a Maxtor on the same bus as a Conner), but that was about it. Want a brand that really sucked? Quantum... remember the Fireball desaster?

These days, btw, most of the disc failures I see are Samsung. Having no problems with either WD or Seagate, but then I'm not buying their consumer-level discs either.

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Mushroom

Re: Quality drop

Let me help you out here:-

I'll never use <insert manufacturer 1> drives again as I've had <insert infeasibly large number> of them fail, but I've never had any from <insert manufacturer 2> failing in <insert infeasibly large number> years.

Then repeat the post swapping manufacturer 1 and 2 around, ad infinitum.

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I dont understand

WD hired one of the head thinkers from seagate and seagate thought that somehow WDs product wouldn't improve because of this. I have often heard this type of thing before, and wonder how you can tell someone not to think, or use what they know in their next job. Most IT shops, HW or SW, are built on the fact that you can hire someone who was thinking for someone else and make them think for you. If seagate didn't like it maybe they should have gave the guy what ever it was that he wanted.

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Indeed, you can't tell people what to think

but you can tell them not to use specified trade secrets just as you can forbid them to use any other specified IP. In general, it might be more difficult to demonstrate unlawful use of a trade secret, but in this case the facts seem to have been pretty clear cut (and faking evidence obviously didn't help).

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Employees will pay

While it's not really clear to me that WD was complicit in doctoring the Doctor's Powerpoints, ultimately it is WD employees who will pay for this. With the books so gravely in the red you can be assured that layoffs will ensue. Yes, his tenure at WD was indeed costly...

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Joke

Rain Man says....

.... Quantums never crashed, yeah. Uh, oh....

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WD in the doghouse

Looks like it's not WD's year (or decade).

Anybody upgrading to Mac OS x 10.9 Mavericks with WD's software installed stands a good chance of losing the data on WD external drives and any external drives that have WD Green mechanisms. WD have known about this for weeks, well before the Mavericks launch, so I've got the popcorn in........

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