NetApp and Oracle Agree to Dismiss Three Year Long Patent Spat

ZFS Lawsuits Dropped

Jessica Thornsby

NetApp and Oracle agree to dismiss their pending patent litigation without prejudice.

NetApp have announced that themselves and Oracle have agreed to dismiss their pending patent
litigation, which began in 2007 between Sun Microsystems and

On September 5th, 2007, NetApp filed an intellectual property
lawsuit against Sun. The lawsuit consisted of a request for the
court to declare whether or not NetApp infringed on a set of Sun’s
patents (as Sun was claiming) and the second stated that Sun
infringed on NetApp’s ZFS patents. NetApp claimed that Sun’s ZFS
file system infringed on several of NetApp’s WAFL patents, by
appearing to consciously reimplement the WAFL file system.

Sun released ZFS as open source, a fact that NetApp acknowledged at the time, however, they pointed out
that “it doesn’t help the open source movement to give away code
that is encumbered with someone else’s patent rights.”

However, then-CEO Jonathan Schwartz accused NetApp of suing Sun “to try to stop the
competitive impact of ZFS on their business.” He claimed that
NetApp’s ultimate objective was to force Sun to “unfree” ZFS,
namely to retract it from the open source community. Sun filed a
comprehensive reciprocal suit, requesting a permanent injunction to
remove all of NetApp’s filter products from the marketplace along
with “sizable monetary damages.” The lawsuit rumbled on – with
rumours that the continued uncertainty regarding the
future of ZFS caused Apple to drop their project to port ZFS to Mac
OS X in 2009 – until this week’s announcement.

Oracle and NetApp are currently seeking to have the lawsuits
dismissed without prejudice. “For more than a decade, Oracle and
NetApp have shared a common vision focused on providing solutions
that reduce IT cost and complexity for thousands of customers
worldwide,” said Tom Georgens, the president and CEO of NetApp, in
a statement regarding the lawsuit. “Moving forward, we will
continue to collaborate with Oracle to deliver solutions that help
our mutual customers gain greater flexibility and efficiency in
their IT infrastructures.”

The terms of the agreement are confidential.


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