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Lawsuits spur HP to publicize cryptic hardware glitch

Hewlett-Packard places ads in 20 U.S. newspapers to inform consumers about a problem with a floppy disk controller, following a spurt of class-action lawsuits.

Hewlett-Packard ran ads in major U.S. newspapers today to publicize a fix for an obscure hardware glitch that has inspired lawsuits against HP and other manufacturers.

The problem concerns the floppy disk controller, a component that regulates floppy disk drives and some tape drives in PCs.

The class-action suit, filed by attorney Wayne Reaud of Beaumont, Texas, alleges that faulty controllers in some HP PCs could lead to data loss or corruption in certain circumstances when transferring data to or from a floppy disk or tape. Reaud has filed similar class-action suits against Compaq Computer and Toshiba, which reached a $2.1 billion out-of-court settlement earlier this year.

The HP ads, placed in 20 metropolitan U.S. newspapers, advise consumers to visit the company's Web site to determine if their PC is affected by the glitch and, if so, to download a software patch. The potentially faulty controller was used in certain models of HP's Brio BA200, NetServer, Pavilion Desktop, Vectra Net PC 20 and Vectra Small PC lines.

HP spokeswoman Anne McGrath said the company has received no reports of customers experiencing data loss or corruption because of the problem. HP, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif., intends to fight the suit, she said.