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Monday, March 24, 2008, 03:00 pm PT (06:00 pm ET)

Seagate SSD lawsuit; Elements 6 ships; Mozilla chastises Apple

If solid-state drives like that in the MacBook Air take off, Seagate may file a patent lawsuit that brings them back to Earth, according to the storage company's chief. Also, Adobe is shipping the latest Mac version of Photoshop Elements, Sirius and XM are a step closer to a merged entity, and Mozilla is criticizing Apple's attempt to "push" Safari.

Seagate may sue Intel, Samsung if SSD tech thrives

Hard disk drive maker Seagate may try to rein in flash memory producers by filing lawsuits if solid-state drive (SSD) technology proves successful, according to statements made by the firm's CEO, Bill Watkins.

Speaking in an interview with Fortune, Watkins notes he is is "convinced" that two of the largest investors in SSD technology, Intel and Samsung, have infringed on Seagate patents that touch on storage interfaces with computers. The executive hasn't said why he has refrained from suing to date but is said by the magazine to be holding lawsuits in reserve if either Intel or Samsung pose serious threats to traditional magnetic storage.

This likely won't be necessary, the Seagate chief suggests. Watkins pans SSD-based notebooks like the MacBook Air as being too costly for what they deliver, which often involves sacrifices both of money and in absolute storage capacity for the extra speed and reliability. "Realistically, I just don’t see the flash notebook sell," he claims.

Both potential legal targets hope to dramatically reduce the cost of SSDs this year and in the future. Intel in particular has promised a 160GB drive by spring and is known to be pushing costs downwards.

Samsung has not commented on the matter, while Intel declined an offer to respond to Watkins' claims of patent infringement.

Adobe ships Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac

Adobe today began shipping Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac users.

The $90 package, revealed earlier this year, is the first Mac-native edition since version 4.0 and adds the ability to make adjustments using curves, walk through fixing images with a Guided Edit mode, and more easily pick out objects with a Quick Select tool.

Elements 6 requires a system running either Mac OS X Tiger or Leopard and can be purchased either as a direct download or physical copy from the Adobe Store.

Sirius, XM satellite radio providers receive DOJ approval

The two satellite radio carriers in the US are a step closer to becoming one, according to a decision made today by the US Department of Justice.

Following more than a year after the original proposal for the merger, the Department largely agreed with the two companies that a unified satellite provider was more a defense against other forms of digital music than an attempt to strangle the radio market through a monopoly. iPods and terrestrial radio are equal options for customers if they don't like what a combined Sirius/XM service would offer, the US government explained.

Traditional broadcasters and HD Radio supporters have contended both that the merger would constitute a monopoly and that it would exclude their own offerings from the market.

The merger will still depend on future FCC approval but may change the relationship of Apple to satellite services. Company head Steve Jobs once dropped discussions of a merger of iPods and satellite radio with Sirius, but at the time was allegedly willing to change his mind if the climate for satellite radio followed suit. Apple has since offered the Wi-Fi Music Store for the iPhone and iPod touch as its options for wireless music but does not have any streaming music options on its devices.

Mozilla criticizes Apple's Safari push on Windows

Apple's attempt to encourage Safari downloads on Windows by offering it as a regular update is simply "wrong," Mozilla chief John Lilly wrote this weekend.

Best known as heading up work behind the Firefox web browser, Lilly warned that many computer users are dependent on software developers to let them know what software they actually need. When they're asked to download a completely new program, it draws uncomfortable similarities with malware that often inserts unwanted code in the guise of a legitimate update, the company head argues.

Lilly notes that there are no complaints inherent against Safari itself or to the concept of granting access to other software through an initial download. However, he cautions that a mass rejection of the browser could affect the likelihood of iTunes users and other customers automatically receiving much more important downloads, such as security fixes.

"It undermines the trust relationship great companies have with their customers, and that’s bad — not just for Apple, but for the security of the whole Web," the Mozilla leader says.