Sony files patent infringement suit against Fujifilm in S.D. Fla. over magnetic tape media

By Steve Brachmann
January 16, 2017

"Sony" by Ian Muttoo. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

“Sony” by Ian Muttoo. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

On December 15th, Japanese electronics conglomerate Sony Corp. (NYSE:SNE) filed a patent infringement lawsuit in U.S. district court against Japanese photography and imaging company Fujifilm (TYO:4901). At the center of Sony’s legal action are magnetic tape products marketed by Fujifilm which allegedly practice technology copied from Sony without a license. The case has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida (S.D. Fla.).

In the official complaint filed by Sony, the company asserts a series of four patents, which it alleges Fujifilm of infringing through the sale of the company’s Linear Tape-Open (LTO) format magnetic tapes, specifically generation four, five and six LTO tapes (LTO-4, LTO-5, LTO-6). The patents being asserted by Sony are:

  • U.S. Patent No. 7016137, titled Tape Drive Apparatus, Recording and/or Reproducing Method, and Recording Medium. It claims a tape drive apparatus with a means for detecting inconsistencies in read/write operations which can identify potential tampering.
  • U.S. Patent No. 6345779, titled Data Storage Cartridge Having a Retainer for a Leader Pin. It protects a data storage cartridge with a new leader pin configuration which prevents the pin from becoming dislodged if the cartridge is dropped.
  • U.S. Patent No. 6896959, entitled Magnetic Recording Medium Having Narrow Pulse Width Characteristics. This discloses a dual-layer magnetic recording medium using magnetic pigments in one of the magnetic layers.
  • U.S. Patent No. 7115331, same title as ‘959 patent. It also claims a dual-layer magnetic recording medium which utilizes the characteristics of metallic pigments.

Three of the patents asserted here by Sony come from that corporation’s 2015 purchase of Imation, a company formed in the mid-1990s by American materials developer 3M (NYSE:MMM). Imation’s work in developing magnetic tapes go back to the 1940s, according to Sony’s complaint. Sony’s lawsuit requests relief including a permanent injunction against Fujifilm to end its sale of infringing products, damages for patent infringement and a judgement of willful infringement for enhanced damages.

This is not the first salvo fired by either side in this patent squabble between Sony and Fujifilm. This May, Fujifilm filed a Section 337 complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to investigate possible patent infringement resulting from Sony’s sale of data storage tapes and cartridges. Fujifilm’s complaint lists a series of six patents which are infringed by Sony’s LTO-7 Ultrium 7 Data Cartridge and LTO-7 Library Pack. In June, the ITC decided to institute an investigation into Sony’s products based upon Fujifilm’s complaint. Last September, an administrative law judge (ALJ) presiding in the case granted a motion requested by Fujifilm to disqualify testimony given by Sony’s expert economic witness because that person testified on behalf of Fujifilm in the prior year.

The Author

Steve Brachmann

Steve Brachmann is a freelance journalist located in Buffalo, New York. He has worked professionally as a freelancer for more than a decade. He writes about technology and innovation. His work has been published by The Buffalo News, The Hamburg Sun,,, Motley Fool and Steve also provides website copy and documents for various business clients and is available for research projects and freelance work.

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Discuss this

There are currently 2 Comments comments.

  1. Benny January 17, 2017 5:22 am

    The drawing in patent 6345779 is 3M’s cartridge tape sold by Digital Equipment for their TK50 and TK52 tape drives. A long time ago. The last time I used one of those was 2006, and it was obsolete then. I’m surprised they are still being sold. It took a mighty long time to backup a 1GB disk on those things. A full computer system backup on the cartridges could take up to 4 hours.

  2. Jennifer January 24, 2017 1:45 am

    Other companies that could be targets for patent infringement include companies with patents that have cited the subject patents owned by Sony, which includes Segway Systems, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Development, IBM, Quantum, and 3M Innovative Properties.