Enterprise Linux Log

May 19 2008   12:08PM GMT

Novell slapped with suit for new mini-OS

Don Rosenburg Profile: Dkr

Astrum Inc., a software security company in Carrollton, Texas, has filed suit against Novell Inc. Astrum claims that Novell violated its contract regarding development of the mini-operating system appliance that Novell launched last month. Novell’s JeOS or Just enough Operating System, is a miniature version of the SUSE Linux Enterprise OS, which was created to help independent software vendors develop or deploy new SUSE-based applications easier and faster.

Filed in U.S. District Court in Texas’ Eastern Division, the lawsuit contends that the two companies entered into a mutual nondisclosure agreement on Oct. 25, 2006, to develop the software appliance but Novell violated the agreement by revealing confidential information to partners and customers. Then, after the prototype was successfully tested in November 2007, Novell engaged rPath of Raleigh, N.C., the following April to create the appliances based on SUSE Linux Enterprise.

The suit alleged breach of contract, trade secret misappropriation, common law misappropriation, misappropriation of ideas and promissory “estoppel,” or broken promises.

The suit sees preliminary and permanent injunctions against Novell to stop downloads of its JeOS appliance as well as a related white paper and to halt the sale of appliances in the PCI industry. A jury trial was requested.

Ironically, the parties involved shared close ties at one time. Both Astrum CEO David Bunn and Patrick Cush, Astrum’s vice president of product development, are former Novell employees. In 2006, the same year Bunn was laid off from Novell, Bunn and some investors bought Astrum and then proposed the project soon after. Astrum also was an exhibitor at Novell’s BrainShare conference last March. Bunn has declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Kevan Barney, the acting director of Novell’s global public relations, said the company is “aware of Astrum’s claims and believes such claims are without merit. “Novell intends to aggressively defend against these claims,” Barney said.

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