Hitachi Global Storage Technologies has begun legal action against a Chinese company that has recently started competing against it in the 1-inch hard-disk drive market.

HGST filed a lawsuit against GS Magicstor; GS Magic, its Chinese parent company; and Riospring, its US research and development arm, alleging infringement of several HGST patents related to hard-disk drives, HGST said in a statement.

The lawsuit requests the court impose a permanent injunction barring GS Magic from making, using, importing, offering to sell, or selling the allegedly infringing products in the US, according to HGST. Monetary damages, the size of which were not disclosed, are also sought.

Hitachi's lawsuit follows two similar suits filed earlier this year by established drive makers against Cornice, another new entrant into the market. Both Seagate Technology and Western Digital alleged in separate lawsuits that Cornice had infringed upon their respective patents.

The lawsuits come as growth in the 1-inch hard-disk drive market is beginning to pick up. Until recently, the drives were niche products used by professional photographers or in some specialist applications but the debut of portable music players, such as Apple Computer's iPod mini, is pushing growth. Apple uses HGST hard disks in its iPod mini players. Shipments of 1-inch drives tripled in 2003 compared to 2002, according to market research company IDC.

Now the market stands to increase further as the drives are employed in new applications. For example, Samsung Electronics recently announced the first cell phone to feature a hard-disk drive. The SPH-V5400 contains a 1.5GB drive produced by Cornice.