Seagate Settles Suit Over 'Gigabyte' Definition

Seagate will settle a lawsuit over its definition of a gigabyte by giving customers the choice of either a cash refund or free backup and recovery software.

The hard drive maker was sued in 2005 by Michael Lazar and Sarah Cho, who accused the company of misleading consumers as to how much storage space Seagate hard drives contained.

Apparently, Seagate chose to use the decimal definition of a gigabyte, which would mean 1 billion bytes. However, this would lead to some confusion since typically computers will report storage by the binary definition, which is 1,073,741,824 bytes.

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The difference between these figures is approximately seven percent. According to court papers, owners of drives purchased between March 22, 2001 and Dec. 31, 2006 would be eligible for a refund under the settlement.

Claims must be filed by March 10, 2008, and for cash refunds a proof of purchase would be necessary. If the customer chooses to select the free backup and recovery option, they would be able to use an online claim form.

Additionally, the drive must have been purchased separately and not come as part of a computer or another electronic device to qualify. For each hard drive purchased, a separate claim must be filed. The cash refund would be equivalent to five percent of the purchase price.

In settling the claim, Seagate said in court documents that although it was denying any wrongdoing, a settlement was in its best interest. Also as part of the settlement, the company will now make certain disclosures about the capacity of its hard drives, but its unclear if retail packaging will actually change much.

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