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Patents Sun Microsystems

Sun To Seek Injunction, Damages Against NetApp 183

Posted by kdawson
from the file-systems-want-to-be-free dept.
Zeddicus_Z writes to note that Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz has outlined Sun's response to Network Appliance's recent patent infringement lawsuit over ZFS: "As a part of this suit, we are requesting a permanent injunction to remove all of their filer products from the marketplace, and are examining the original NFS license — on which Network Appliance was started. In addition... we will be going after sizable monetary damages. And I am committing that Sun will donate half of those proceeds to the leading institutions promoting free software and patent reform... [Regarding NetApp's demands in order to drop its existing case against Sun:] ...[to] unfree ZFS, to retract it from the free software community, and to limit ZFS's allowable field of use to computers — and to forbid its use in storage devices."
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Sun To Seek Injunction, Damages Against NetApp

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  • old news. (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @06:43AM (#21252729)
    Old news.
  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @07:09AM (#21252831)
    Here [netapp.com]'s NetApps CEO's blog post about this.
  • by Aladrin (926209) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @07:55AM (#21253009)
    Doing nothing with it? Their entire business depends on this lawsuit. If they lose this, EVERY product they sell will die. This is an excellent example of a patent doing what it is -supposed- to do: Protect the innovation and allow the innovator to profit from it.

    Sun used the product from the patent and created a Free version without permission. That makes them a great 'Robin Hood', but it also makes them the 'bad guy' in the eyes of the law.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @08:31AM (#21253163)
    From the Netapp CEO's blog:

    How did we get here?

    "Like many large technology companies, Sun has been using its patent portfolio as a profit center. About 18 months ago, Sun's lawyers contacted NetApp with a list of patents they say we infringe, and requested that we pay them lots of money. We responded in two ways. First, we closely examined their list of patents. Second, we identified the patents in our portfolio that we believe Sun infringes."
    http://blogs.netapp.com/dave/2007/09/netapp-sues-sun.html [netapp.com]

  • by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @09:00AM (#21253293)
    This is what is wrong with the patent system in the US - In the UK (at the moment, mostly...) you cannot patent a thing only a process, so you cannot patent your product only your method of making it, in the same way you cannot patent a drug only your method of making that drug, you cannot patent a gene only your method of creating or isolating that gene, and if we had software patents (which we thankfully don't) you would only be able to patent the process of writing software not software itself (you could patent a RAD system now, but not the software that implements that process)

    In the US the patent system is broken since it allows the patenting of things not methods, this really extends copywrite rather than being a separate process?

    Patent your method
    Copywrite your original idea
    Trademark your logo/name

  • by cperciva (102828) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @09:05AM (#21253315) Homepage
    Maybe patent applications should be examined by qualified people to see if they can be implimented using only the information supplied in the application together with that already in the public domain.

    There's no maybe about this. As part of a patent application, "the specification must include a written description of the invention and of the manner and process of making and using it, and is required to be in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the technological area to which the invention pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to make and use the same [uspto.gov]"; and patent examiners are responsible for determining if a patent application meets this requirement.

    Most of the problems with the patent system right now can be traced to the fact that patent examiners neither have enough time nor the qualifications necessary to make such determinations -- the days when the likes of Einstein worked for the Patent Office are long past. However, this is a reason to recruit more and better patent examiners (and in particular more in the area of computing), not to throw out the entire system.
  • by Paul Jakma (2677) <paul+slashdot@jakma.org> on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @09:27AM (#21253461) Homepage Journal
    Sun used the product from the patent and created a Free version without permission. That makes them a great 'Robin Hood', but it also makes them the 'bad guy' in the eyes of the law.

    You're stating as a matter of fact that Sun "used the product from the patent". This is stretching the truth somewhat. The actual facts of the matter are that NetApp claims Sun have violated their patent (WAFL, etc), and filed suit requesting relief. Sun however disagree and believe they do not violate NetApps' patents - indeed Sun claim, in their counter-suits, that NetApp are violating Suns' patents. However, no-one is violating anyone's patents until either both parties agree they are, or a judge says so.

    You can read Suns' response to NetApps' complaint [sun.com] (which #include's most, if not all, of NetApps' complaint).

    NB: I am a Sun employee. I have tried to keep the above post be 100% fact-based and opinion-free, but I am obviously biased, I also may be wrong and finally IANAL. Lector emptor.
  • by Pinky's Brain (1158667) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @09:58AM (#21253645)
    No, but now you are getting into minutia of implementation. The essential concept they share is copy on write of data and snapshotting of metadata to allow you to quickly make fully recoverable checkpoints of the state. In the case of KeyKOS it's the state of the OS, in WAFL's case it's the state of the filesystem.
  • by HKcastaway (985110) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @11:18AM (#21254609)
    Netapp are a company that do their best to make sure their products are not sold in the 2nd hand market and once a product EOL there is little chance to use it.

    I have a few Netapps here and can't use them because Netapp will not release the activation license key.

    An IT future without Netapp's built in obsolescence is a better future.
    I hope Sun has a field day with them.
  • by miquels (37972) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @11:55AM (#21255109) Homepage
    NetApp did something innovative with WAFL; Sun then came along, reimplemented everything, and called it ZFS

    Well. Innovative? Around 2000, Daniel Phillips developed a linux filesystem called Tux2 that was based on the same ideas as WAFL, ZFS and maybe BTRFS. He knew about NetApps patents but believed there was enough prior art [iu.edu].

    Unfortunately for filesystem innovation, it looks like he got
    bullied [indiana.edu]
    by netapp [indiana.edu], so the project was abandoned.

    It would be great if the WAFL patents could get invalidated, or at least their scope tightened, so that creative people can get on with innovative filesystem development once again.
  • by GauteL (29207) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @12:19PM (#21255395)
    Whether Sun or NetApp started this is a point of heavy contention. They both claim to be the victim and they both claim the other party started it.
  • by WhiskeyJuvenile (534710) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @01:19PM (#21256167) Homepage
    Firstly, the USPTO receives no taxpayer funding [cornell.edu]. Secondly [cornell.edu],

    (b) The Director shall charge the following fees for maintaining in force all patents based on applications filed on or after December 12, 1980:
    (1) 3 years and 6 months after grant, $830.
    (2) 7 years and 6 months after grant, $1,900.
    (3) 11 years and 6 months after grant, $2,910.

    Unless payment of the applicable maintenance fee is received in the Patent and Trademark Office on or before the date the fee is due or within a grace period of 6 months thereafter, the patent will expire as of the end of such grace period. The Director may require the payment of a surcharge as a condition of accepting within such 6-month grace period the payment of an applicable maintenance fee. No fee may be established for maintaining a design or plant patent in force.
  • Re:Funny thing (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kent Recal (714863) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @02:16PM (#21256887)
    I'm not the same person but I can elaborate because we have also found bugs.
    The most serious so far has been that the semantics of resilvering a zfs mirror
    are well, questionable.

    Imagine this scenario:
    One half of the mirror dies (e.g. hardware failure).
    You replace the failed device and put the mirror back online.
    ZFS will do a resilver and report the mirror as "online" and
    "healthy".

    Sounds all good, right?
    Well, actually resilvering alone doesn't make the mirror
    redundant again! Pulling the plug of either side at
    that stage will trigger a nice kernel oops.

    You have to perform a *scrub* on the pool to get
    full mirror redundancy back.

    We're glad that we caught this during testing because
    it doesn't seem to be documented anywhere. Even the
    sun technician that handled our issue was pretty surprised.

    Now one may argue that this is more a documentation bug than
    anything else, nonetheless we were told that sun considers
    to change the behaviour in a future patch. Not least because
    the zpool status output (remember: "healthy", "online") is
    strongly misleading. In fact, there doesn't seem to be a way
    to determine whether a "healthy" mirror is actually redundant
    (i.e. has been scrubbed, yet) or not. At least not
    with the standard CLI tools...

    The workaround, for now, is to scrub your mirror after
    any changes - and ofcourse it doesn't hurt to do it
    regularly anyways.

    Most of the other issues we had have fortunately
    been fixed with recent solaris-patches.

    For example the dreaded SYNCHRONIZE CACHE issue that
    would kill performance on storage arrays with
    battery backed cache:
    http://blogs.digitar.com/jjww/?itemid=44 [digitar.com]

    Well, in summary, we're quite happy with ZFS so
    far and it is maturing steadily. Just make sure
    to test it very thoroughly, especially corner cases
    and failure conditions, or you might cut yourself
    on one of few the remaining rough edges...

    It is definately the most interesting choice for a filesystem
    nowadays. Although I'm eager to see what HAMMER will bring to
    the table...

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