Imation has filed a $450 million lawsuit against Quantum, alleging the violation of antitrust laws by price fixing and monopolizing the digital-linear-tape (DLT) market.

It's alleged that Quantum forced Imation to pay more for DLT "than it otherwise would have paid", and that Imation "has been excluded from the manufacture and sale of data storage tape compatible with DLT drives".

Imation said Quantum kept it from selling compatible DLT cartridges by not allowing them to pass test requirements. DLT is a widely adopted technology for backing up and archiving data.

Lost sales Imation claims Quantum's unfair practices cost it $150 million in research-&-development and lost sales since 1999 – when it was prepared to produce the tape cartridges. The company is suing for damages.

Quantum chairman and CEO Michael Brown called the lawsuit "preposterous", saying his company has wasted its time and money during the past two years helping Imation to qualify its DLT cartridges.

The lawsuit also accuses Quantum of "inviting Imation to join an illegal tape cartel" comprising Fuji Photo Film and Hitachi Maxell. According to Imation, the cartel "inappropriately extended patents on licensed tape drives to tape media as a way to enforce its monopoly hold on the tape market", and "misrepresented DLT-compatible tape as an open standard with competitive pricing".

Tale of the tape Fara Yale, director and chief analyst at Dataquest, said Quantum has always used test-based licensing agreements to strictly control which companies can produce DLT cartridges compatible with their tape drives.

Quantum charges Fuji and Maxell a royalty for each certified cartridge they sell, and in 1999 and 2000, Quantum collected about $386 million from Fuji and Maxell.

Frank Russomanno, vice president and general manager of data storage media and services at Imation, said that Quantum's "monopolistic practices hurt the market with higher, fixed prices and limited supply".

He added: "The purpose of our suit is to bring them back to that promise of an open and fair market. Imation has met with, and remains willing to meet with, Quantum to try to resolve our differences and reach a negotiated settlement."