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Lexar and Toshiba Tangle in Court

Santa Clara, Calif. — In an industry known as much for its multiplicity of lawsuits as for its collection of form factors, two flash-memory heavyweights are enmeshed in a lawsuit that sprinkled high drama amidst technical wrangling.

In Lexar Media v. Toshiba, which is being argued before the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, Lexar alleges that Toshiba entered into a partnership with the company to secure critical intellectual property regarding, among other things, flash-memory controllers. All the while, Lexar alleges, Toshiba was circulating Lexar’s trade secrets throughout the company and with Lexar’s arch-rival SanDisk.

Toshiba and SanDisk, Lexar alleges, later teamed up, built a factory and began selling products using Lexar’s patented intellectual property.

According to Eric Whitaker, Lexar’ executive VP and general counsel, the lawsuit revolves around technology that is ultimately incorporated into both OEM and consumer CompactFlash, SD and xD-Picture Cards.

Toshiba would not comment on the suit outside of a written statement stating that the company believes the suit is “without merit” and that it is “vigorously defending” itself.

Lexar is asking for financial compensation from Toshiba and a “head start injunction” that would stop Toshiba from shipping its flash-memory card products that Lexar alleges violate its patents, Whittaker said.

Closing arguments will be heard this week with a verdict expected later this month.

Whitacker noted that there are “more lawsuits than ever” revolving around flash memory because the technology is so new and the new entrants in the market need access to sensitive intellectual property.