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 NepApp.

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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