Thursday, September 06, 2007

Network Appliance sues SUN over ZFS

The storage supplier's suit alleges that Sun's ZFS file system, which is available as open source code, infringes seven NetApp patents. The suit seeks damages and a court injunction that would force Sun to take ZFS off the market - or much more likely, make some sort of settlement with NetApp.
In a blog article posted yesterday, Hitz accused Sun of "using its patent portfolio as a profit center." Sun fired back with an email statement alleging that NetApp's action will not succeed, and is a "direct attack on the open source community," and "an attempt to inhibit the meteoric rise of open source technologies."
While NetApp stressed that it would not be chasing down non-commercial use of ZFS users, it said during a teleconference yesterday that it has not decided its answer to the "complex and subtle" question of whether to extend its legal action to third-party ZFS licensees that might be competing with NetApp.
The storage supplier said it is aware that ZFS is already part of some commercial products, and said that it has put in a courtesy call to Apple, which is beta testing an operating system, Leopard, that includes ZFS.
I found this comment and answer on Dave's Blog interesting.

Hi Dave,

Is the second part of NetApp's suit retaliatory, or had NetApp planned to pursue legal action all along? This is the first I've heard of NetApp's intent to sue for WAFL infringement - in the 5-plus years since the inception of ZFS - despite the existence of NetApp patents dating back to the mid-90s. It is a fair question given the context and timing of NetApp's suit.

Even if NetApp demonstrates a legal basis, cynics such as myself might see this as a SCO-like attempt to, at the very least, hang a cloud of legal uncertainty over a competing technology in an attempt to stifle its adoption.

Certainly, a company is obligated to protect its IP. I simply found it interesting that NetApp took so long to respond.

-- joseph martins

You asked whether NetApp planned pursue legal action all along, independent of Sun’s action. I think the most accurate answer is that Sun goaded us into paying attention. In our 15 years of existence, we have only filed one other IP lawsuit, so it’s not like we have an aggressive track record, or teams of people standing by, ready to sue.

On the other hand, I won’t pretend that we would never have sued if Sun hadn’t approached us first. We focus on innovation as a company, and we do intend to defend our intellectual property.

-- Dave Hitz"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bullshit - Net App is a bunch of trolls, just like SCO. We're boycotting Net App, and recommending others do the same. Bunch of dirt bags.