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Here Comes Sun: In Patent Row With Network Appliance

September 5, 2007

Earlier today, storage solutions maker Network Appliance filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Sun Microsystems.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Lufkin, the suit alleges that Sun's ZFS storage software violates seven NetApp patents.

The stakes are high for Sun. ZFS enables servers with significantly expandable storage capacity and simpler networked storage administration capabilities. Generally speaking, ZFS is considered a core asset of Solaris 10- even among open-source types who tend to think of Solaris 10 as outmoded.

That being the case, you can see how important ZFS is to Sun.

Interestingly, this isn't the first dust-up between Sun and NetApp. A statement by NetApp CEO Dan Warmenhoven said that Sun had approached NetApp 18 months ago with the assertion that NetApp was in violation of Sun patents. Warmenhoven noted that Sun proposed a licensing agreement as a settlement.

Subsequent review then turned the tables- at least as far as NetApp is concerned.

Turned the tables to the point that NetApp then came to believe that Sun was violating NetApp's Patents. Not the other way around, you see.

NetApp is requesting a permanent injunction barring Sun from offering ZFS as well as further developing the solution.

NetApp execs expect a legal resolution is expected within 12 to 18 months, reports News.com's Dawn Kawamoto.




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