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Have Patents, Will Travel

Execs at Dot Hill Systems Corp. (Nasdaq: HILL) hope newly awarded patents will be their ticket to more OEM deals.

Dot Hill this week announced it's gotten two patents, following one it obtained in May (see Dot Hill Gets Controller ID Patent, Dot Hill Wins Patent, and Dot Hill Gets Mirroring Patent). The patents relate to controller technology acquired when Dot Hill bought Chaparral for $62 million back in February (see Dot Hill Picks Up Chaparral).

This is a big reason why we made that deal,” Dot Hill marketing director Omar Barraza says of the Chaparral patents. This echoes comments by CEO Jim Lambert, who said months ago that he wanted Dot Hill to own its controller technology in hopes of gaining more OEM deals (see Dot Hill Picks Up Chaparral).

Prior to the Chaparral buy, Dot Hill's OEMs, including Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), which now accounts for 84 percent of Dot Hill’s revenue, were concerned that Dot Hill did not own its own intellectual property (see Sun Sings New Storage Song, Sun Dogs Dot Hill and Sun Shines on Dot Hill). Instead, its controllers have largely come from Infortrend Technology Inc. Though Dot Hill will continue to OEM these controllers, it now has more flexibility in how it augments them for specific vendors' applications.

The patent won in May is for technology that alleviates bandwidth congestion between RAID controllers in storage networks by using a shared bus rather than I/O channels. One patent issued this week describes a way to prevent ID conflicts on SCSI buses, which speeds system configuration. The other patent allows parity mirroring between controllers to enhance performance in RAID arrays.

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