Storage Soup

Mar 27 2008   2:11PM GMT

Sun fires another shot at NetApp

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

Although NetApp fired the first volley in its ZFS lawsuit against Sun Microsystems, Sun has been the aggressor since NetApp’s initial strike. Following NetApp’s lawsuit last September charging that Sun violated several of its patents regarding ZFS, Sun countersued and accused NetApp of violating Sun’s patents. Sun has also asked the U.S. Patents Office to re-examine several NetApp patents.

Sun filed yet another lawsuit Wednesday, alleging patent infringement related to storage management technology NetApp acquired when it bought Onaro in January.

“As NetApp attempts to extend its product line, it also expands its exposure to Sun patents,” Dana Lengkeek of Sun’s Corporate Communications office wrote in an emailed statement.

The latest lawsuit filed in U.S. Discrict Court in the northern district of California¬†claims that software NetApp gained from Onaro uses Sun’s patented technology. Sun seeks compensation from NetApp for patent infringement and an injunction preventing NetApp from using Sun’s technology.

Sun also revealed the U.S. Patent Office granted its request to re-examine NetApp’s patent related to its “copy on write” technology.

But perhaps the harshest accusation Sun leveled against NetApp in its latest filing came in the opening paragraph of the suit. Chiding NetApp for only spending about $390 million on research and development last year and for holding “only approximately 200″ patents, Sun declared: “Indeed, rather than innovate, NetApp builds on the innovation of others” and “NetApp … uses extensive amounts of open source code developed by others, without contributing any innovation of its own.”

Instead of demanding money if it wins the suit, maybe Sun should request that NetApp change its already-taken slogan “Go Further, Faster ” to “NetApp: Built on others’ innovation.”

NetApp responded to the latest suit with a terse: “NetApp does not comment on ongoing litigation.”

5  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Kpc
    Hi Rafflo, I hope you understand What is Open and Closed Technology. Open - Publically available Technology. Can be shared Closed - Private Technology. No sharing. You can only share what belongs to you. However you can use some other technology basics provided they share it. For example, Alexander Graham Bell invented Telephone Technology years ago. This is a Open technology of making telephones and the technology is open. But Nokia, Motorola use the Phone technology as a basics because the concept is Open. However Nokia does not copy Patented Motorola's technology today. Hence Sun (Similar to Bell) has invented NFS. Great. It is open. NetApp used NFS that is open and it is nothing wrong. Here NetApp did not use any Patented Closed Technology of Sun. Whereas Sun took a Patented Closed Technology and created ZFS which is wrong. May be Sun should change slogan to "Brilliant CopyCats" Sun being a Bigger company should understand and acknowledge the work of a Smaller company and move on to the Next Big Innovation like the laser Chipset. Sun Don't bully.
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  • Dave Raffo
    Actually, NetApp *didn't* fire the first shot. NetApp's patent allegations are in response to Sun's own patent claims. I don't know why this aspect of the story is so frequently glossed over by the media. See http://blogs.netapp.com/dave/2007/09/sun-patent-team.html for a reference.
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  • Dave Raffo
    @Nathan I don't think a corporate blog is a reliable source for questions like who started the fire. I also won't use Jonathan Schwartz' blog as a reference. I think only the two parties in this suit know who started this all and the rest is speculations.
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  • Rik
    If it wasn't for (Free)BSD and Sun's NFS there would be NO NetApp, as well as many other corps. -and what has NetApp given back freely/openly for public use. wafl ? ....that's what I thought -about as much as Micro$oft.
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  • Dave Raffo
    Sun has devolved from a network company into a systems company. I think Sun's days may be numbered.
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