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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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  • Try to do something new,or innovative, and out come the lawsuits. Only the megacorps like Sun can really compete in the minefield that is software anymore. If we can get rid of the foolish software patents, and get copyright back into a reasonable time frame, maybe the US can get back to being an innovator, instead of merely a lawyers paradise.
    • by cperciva (102828) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @07:14AM (#21252851) Homepage
      I disagree completely: This is why we need to keep software patents. NetApp did something innovative with WAFL; Sun then came along, reimplemented everything, and called it ZFS.

      Remember, "innovation" means "doing something new" -- not "copying what someone else has done". There are certainly implementational issues with the patent system as it currently exists, but in principle the patent system is all about protecting people who do something new from corporations (like Sun or Microsoft) who just reimplement without adding anything new.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Well, WAFL is closed source and ZFS is open. So someone has to explain exactly how Sun expected to get away with "copying". An added twist to the case will come when the native client/server CIFS support is shipped with Solaris (coming soon.)
        • by cperciva (102828)
          WAFL is closed source and ZFS is open. So someone has to explain exactly how Sun expected to get away with "copying".

          The design of WAFL has been extensively published. I'm sure that ZFS doesn't have any code directly copied from WAFL; but the ideas do seem to be extensively copied.
          • by makomk (752139)
            Hell, if you know your filesystems I think you could figure out a lot of how it works from the NetApp patent application. (Knowledge of how to read patents is less important - it reuses existing terms and idea where appropriate and is, in general, alarmingly readable for a patent. I'm still wondering how this happened - it's almost like it was written by a filesystem designer rather than a patent lawyer, which is unlikely.)
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by badfish99 (826052)
              That's how patents are supposed to work: in return for the temporary protection of a patent, you have to reveal exactly how your invention works in the patent application, so that everyone can copy it once the patent has run out.
              • by mpe (36238) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @08:43AM (#21253219)
                That's how patents are supposed to work: in return for the temporary protection of a patent, you have to reveal exactly how your invention works in the patent application, so that everyone can copy it once the patent has run out.

                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.
                • 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 Ash Vince (602485) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @09:41AM (#21253549) Journal

                    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.
                    Now first let me make clear that I agree with the above statement and think that you have correctly identified the root of the problem.

                    The only problem I have is with your suggestion as to how to fix it. The patent office would need to be vastly increased in size in order to cope with having people with a higher degree of specialisation. This would also result in the patent office having to hire more expensive staff (better qualifications and specialised expertise is not cheap).

                    This would in turn put up the tax bill for the average american, and we know how much they love politicians suggesting higher taxes. The other issue is that this would negatively impact on patent lawyers earnings. The large patent law firms would therefore lobby very hard against such a move.
                    • by uncqual (836337) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @11:46AM (#21254979)

                      This would in turn put up the tax bill for the average american
                      Or, raise patent fees - perhaps including a "time and materials" component which would vary depending on the skills and effort required by the patent office. Those patents that required an uberexaminer with doctorates in three seemingly unrelated fields and 20 years of commercial experience would be expensive - but that seems okay. It seems likely that some of the most novel patents (slapping head saying "dang, that's really clever and useful, why didn't I think of that?") actually would require the least effort/cost to grant -- and these are the sort of patents that seem to be the best for society as they reflect true innovation and insight.

                      Perhaps part (1/2?) of the fees above some limit could be paid on an installment basis over the life of the patent (possibly with interest) - and the patent holder could decide to stop making the payments and thereby irrevocably release the patent into the Public Domain. On the positive side, this would help the "little guy" a bit as some of the expenses could be deferred or, even never incurred. It would also open up patents more quickly to the Public Domain if the inventor ('s company) hadn't figured out how to commercially exploit the patent. Also, on the positive side it would tend to reduce, over time, the number of active patents and thereby reduce the search effort (for both the applicant and the patent office) and also remove some of the mines from the minefield that technology companies walk every day. On the negative side, some of the expenses of patent applications would eventually be borne by the taxpayer or by amortizing the ultimately unrecovered costs across other patent applications.
                    • 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 mo
                    • by hackstraw (262471)
                      Or, raise patent fees

                      That seems to be a common answer to things, but I don't believe this lives up to the spirit of the patent system.

                      The spirit is that it is there so that average joe can come up with an idea with protection, and not get squashed by BIG CORP or even the other average joe.

                      The reality is that I believe that patents are already beyond average joes, and only institutions can afford to apply and _defend_ said patents. The system places the defense of a patent on the patent holder. There are n
                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    by Hatta (162192)
                    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

                    Solution, if you don't have the time to validate a patent, don't issue it. I'm sure if they stopped issuing 90% of patents, there would be a lot more attention focused on this problem.
                  • by makomk (752139)
                    In theory, perhaps. In practice, I think patents that are unreadable to anyone but patent lawyers are a long and well-respected tradition...
                  • by rbanffy (584143)
                    "the days when the likes of Einstein worked for the Patent Office are long past"

                    Just to point out Einstein never worked for the USPTO.

                    Neither his likes, for what I see ;-)
                  • by badfish99 (826052)
                    But what actually happens now is that patents are written in a bizarre sort of legalese which is incomprehensible to most people skilled in the technological area to which the invention pertains. It surely doesn't take much skill on the part of patent examiners to see that this is the case. If this regulation were enforced, surely the vast majority of patent applications would be rejected on sight.
      • by onion2k (203094) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @07:35AM (#21252925) Homepage
        What NetApp did was to patent a method of mapping data in a file system. What they should have been made to do by the USPTO was patent their implementation of a method of mapping data in a file system. It's a subtle but important difference.

        To draw an analogy to something a little more obvious we should look to the drug industry. Many people believe that patenting drugs shouldn't be allowed, what should be allowed are patents on the method of making the drug. If someone can think of a way to get the same end result using a different process they should be allowed to do just that. Having a system that allows companies to hold patents on what amount of sequences of data is silly.

        The same should go for software. It's fine to patent a specific implementation of some code, but it's not fine for that patent to cover every conceivable way of achieving the same end result.
        • by itsdapead (734413) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @07:54AM (#21253005)

          Many people believe that patenting drugs shouldn't be allowed, what should be allowed are patents on the method of making the drug.

          In the case of the drugs industry (frequently raised as a pro-patent argument) - where you need mandatory regulation anyway to ensure drugs are safe and effective, surely it would be quite straightforward to grant a fixed-term exclusive license as part of the (expensive) approval process? No need to get bogged down with lawyers trying to decide who "owns" the underlying knowledge - you pay to get something licensed in a particular country, you get a N year monopoly.

          • This is actually one of the best ideas I've heard in a long time.

            C//
            • by itsdapead (734413)

              This is actually one of the best ideas I've heard in a long time.

              Darn! I should have patented it! Does Slashdot count as prior art? :-)

              • Here's what I find compelling about your idea: it ties the granting of the monopoly to a provable adding of value: the expensive due diligence of proving the drug both safe and effective. To bad that standard couldn't be broadly used, actually.

                C//
        • by Ginger Unicorn (952287) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @08:19AM (#21253123)
          The same should go for software. It's fine to patent a specific implementation of some code, but it's not fine for that patent to cover every conceivable way of achieving the same end result.

          Surely what you're describing is copyright, not patenting. Being a granted a monopoly on a specific implementation is copyright. Regarding what you said about the drug industry - if your scheme was put in place, what would be the incentive to develop the drugs in the first place? If you come up with a cure for AIDS and start marketing it, then a month later someone comes up with a way to churn your pills out faster and cheaper, and there no possible way for you to do it more efficiently than them, they get to eat your lunch with impugnity, since you would be forbidden from emulating their process, and they arent forbidden from raping your hard earned R&D assets.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            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
          • by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @09:01AM (#21253299) Homepage
            The problem is that "copyright" and the logical extension of "patenting" physical objects are the same thing.

            You don't copyright a stove, because people can't just copy it. You patent it, and now people can't build an identical stove, even if they could build something very stovelike. But with software, you copyright the software, and now people can't copy it. Patenting would, in theory, fulfill the exact same purpose - "you can't build the identical software" - and that's software patents are kind of bizarre and shouldn't even exist.

            Instead, though, patents are being treated as "one step up from copyright" - you can't build an identical stove, and you "can't build software that does the same thing". Which isn't the equivalent of patents at all. It's more the equivalent of a concept monopoly. If software patents were imported right back into the physical world, you'd have people able to put patent on "cars", or "stoves", as an entire class of thing.

            I don't think software patents need to be "fixed". I don't think they need to be "abolished". I think what's necessary is realization that the entire concept of "software patent" doesn't even make sense, and that there really is no parallel with the physical world here.
          • by The_Noid (28819) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @09:02AM (#21253303) Journal
            You're correct.
            A patent is on an implementation. Abstract ideas are not patentable. That's why software patents make no sense, as software is already protected by copyright.
            At least in Europe it still works that way :)

            And with regards to drugs, if some else is so much smarter then you that they can produce the same pills a lot cheaper then maybe you're in the wrong business. Do you want to withhold the sick population from cheaper drugs just because the current patent holder is too dumb to produce it cheaper? I personally do not. Patents take away the need to innovate and thus they are bad.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by robot_love (1089921)
              Maybe I just didn't follow you, but I think your drug argument ignores the development/testing cost of making drugs. Imagine Drug Company A spends $500 million developing an AIDS drug and then produces it at $1 a pill and sells it at $2. They must sell 500 million pills to recoup their investment.

              If Drug Company B comes along and manages to produce the pill at $1.50, but didn't have to do the research and regulatory testing, they make money from the start.

              Manufacturing costs are only a small portion
              • by stony3k (709718)
                They will still need to find a different method of producing the same drug. The original method of producing the drug is still patented, and I think you'll find that it's usually not trivial at all to find a different biochemical process to produce the same drug, especially at the limits of current technology. So there would be R&D involved, but the original company would not have a guaranteed monopoly.

                The European model of only allowing the patenting of actual implementations would solve many of the
                • by Pharmboy (216950)
                  They will still need to find a different method of producing the same drug.

                  Hindsight is always 20/20, and everything is obvious after the fact. India is rather well known for re-creating drugs using different methods (as their patent system allows) for example.

                  Often, creating a chemical is trivial compared to what is needed to figure out what the chemical does, and what the long term benefits/risks are. You can not really compare R&D costs to manufacturing method costs, as it almost always costs more
              • by Vancorps (746090)

                Your argument also conveniently ignores the risk drug companies face even when developing off-brand products. The lower priced pill still has to go through all the regulatory testing. That will eat at the initial cost even if your procedures are streamlined a large portion of the process is paying for FDA regulation. Just because your drug is based on something out there doesn't mean you get to skip to the head of the line. Thankfully that thought process makes no sense and would scare the majority of peopl

              • by bytesex (112972)
                The method for dealing with this scenario is described above: you MUST pass your newly developed drugs by government regulatory bodies in order for them to be released to the market. Same goes for safety stuff in cars, food products etc. Development of such processes could simply have a consequence that when you pass the tests - you get a monopoly for your product for n years. Won't stop the litigation (which is there now anyway), but will end patents for virtual things.
            • > Do you want to withhold the sick population from cheaper drugs just because the current patent holder is too dumb to produce it cheaper? I personally do not.

              Why would anyone invest in R&D, obtaining the patent and regulatory approvals if they don't intend to actually sell the drug to the sick population?
              Can you name some examples of pharmaceutical companies that patented something, got the approval and then did not want to sell the product (or license the patent)?

              > Patents take away the need to
          • Being a granted a monopoly on a specific implementation is copyright
            No it isn't. At least it isn't suppose to be. Once upon a time inventions weren't copyrightable and copyrightable material wasn't patentable. The fact that the patent system has been twisted to what it is now doesn't change how it once worked and how it should work.
        • by jotok (728554)
          I disagree somewhat...sometimes you spend millions on R&D to discover a very basic concept that can be implemented any number of ways. That kind of thing ought to be protected as well.

          I mean, say you're caveman Zog and you are the first person to discover how tasty (and healthy) cooked food is. There are plenty of ways to cook it, but for a little while at least Zog should get sole credit for being the inventor of "cooking," rather than simply the patent-holder for "flambe."
        • by Abreu (173023)
          "The Rich stay healthy, the Sick stay poor"
        • Many people believe that patenting drugs shouldn't be allowed, what should be allowed are patents on the method of making the drug.

          This is what they did in India for decades. Until recently [nytimes.com] patents were only available on rather specific processes for making drugs, not for the drugs themselves. Results? Lots of cheap knockoff drugs, not a lot of innovative new drugs. India's pharma industry has been a supplier for low income people around the world (which is good) but almost entirely for knock-offs of dr

      • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @07:36AM (#21252935) Homepage
        Why do you want to design a system to 'protect people who do something new'? Surely the system should be run to promote progress in science and the useful arts, as specified in the US Constitution?

        Maybe it does promote progress to have patents on software, but it's not a foregone conclusion; study some of the arguments [mit.edu] (there may also be a good site arguing in favour of swpats, but I don't know of one) and decide what works best in the public interest, rather than just assuming that any measure in favour of 'inventors' is going to help the public.
        • by Wolfbone (668810)

          Unfortunately, those most directly affected by the patent system are also often the least knowledgeable about it and often the most infected by its peculiarly virulent myths and fallacies. Asking some of the right questions, as you have done, is a good start but the patent system - esp. w.r.t. software patents - has been a hot topic in economics and elsewhere for some time now and you might be interested in some of the more recent stuff than that found at the LPF site:

          http://researchoninnovation.org/ [researchoninnovation.org]

          ht [umich.edu]

      • The problem with software patents is that the vast majority of them get in the way of future and present products and many, many may not be so "obvious" but are not really worthy of patenting.

        A prime example is Microsoft's patent on start bar button grouping-- When the start bar is running out of room and a single application has several buttons on it, they can consolidate to a single button menu. This is first seen in XP, iirc and the patent is broad enough that no one can really create an application with
      • by asuffield (111848)

        NetApp did something innovative with WAFL

        Actually, they lifted an idea that was already in common use in the major DBMSes. All they did was sell it as a 'filesystem' rather than as a 'database', and then take out a patent on calling it a 'filesystem'. This patent is absurd. It certainly isn't innovative, it is an obvious, logical step forward to anybody skilled in the art.

        The problem here being that the number of people skilled in the art of filesystem design probably numbers in the hundreds, at most, and n

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by miquels (37972)
        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 the
  • by Forge (2456) <kevinforge AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @06:53AM (#21252775) Homepage Journal
    Your honour this little fly-by-night company has dared to file a lawsuite against the glory that is Sun.

    As a minimum response we want them bitch-slapped raked over the coals and then chopped up into little pieces and dumped at sea.

    And just in case you don't think Sun is grand enough to make this happen, we are soliciting help from those people who want to reform the freakishly complicated patent system.

    Thank you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by chuckymonkey (1059244)
      I understand what you mean by that post, however this really isn't one of the cases of SUN being the bad guy. It's someone thinking up an idea, patenting it, doing nothing with it, then suing when they think that someone has infringed on their patent. It's utter foolishness and does not contribute to the betterment of technology. All people like these idiots do is make lawyers rich and keep the little guy with a great idea and no money for a patent or the time to make sure someone hasn't already patented
      • by Forge (2456) <kevinforge AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @07:35AM (#21252929) Homepage Journal
        Actually I was just trying to be funny.

        The reality is that the mega patent holders. IBM Sun and even Microsoft tend not to run out and file patent lawsuits to stop innovation but rather as a defensive measure to protect their business from litigious none innovative parasites.

        NetApp isn't the worst of the bunch since they still have viable products on the market. Unfortunately they are so panicked over the possibility that we may use PC Servers with huge piles of massive SATA drives at a total cost way below the stuff they are selling.

        If only they were able to come up with new products when someone else innovates enough to make what they are selling today a commodity.

        So no offence to Sun but hey we should be able to make fun of our friends too.
        • Sir, I suspect that you've never attended the meetings where these intellectual property issues are used to resist open source tools. The IBM patent portfolio may be used defensively, but the Microsoft patent portfolio has in fact been used aggressively to block Linux and BSD UNIX installations. Go read the details of the interview with Steve Ballmer at http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/05/28/100033867/index.htm [cnn.com].
        • Heh, I realized belatedly that I had bitten hook, line, and sinker too. I know the low UID thing is cliched, but the ones that are low and still around generally are fairly reasonable people. Once I looked a little deeper I realized that I was being reeled in and about to be someone's dinner, luckily I was small fry so you threw me back in the pond.
      • 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 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 psmears (629712)

            Lector emptor.

            Don't you mean 'caveat lector', unless it's intended to be a subtle sales pitch for your employer? ;-)

          • However, no-one is violating anyone's patents until either both parties agree they are, or a judge says so.


            No, no one is legally liable for doing so before that happens.

            But things actually happen before a court of law finds that they happen.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Sun and NetApp have been arguing, for years, about patent issues both ways involving STK storage technologies purchased by Sun and used by NetApp, and in turn for these ZFS issues raised by NetAPP. From my experience with both, I'm inclined to believe that Sun is the one that wants actual open source competition, and that is innocent in patent violations. The Netapp appliances are painful to dig out the details of, and are exactly the sort of closed appliance that caused Richard Stallman to first become inc
  • Netapp dislikes Sun so much, and yet, they use their OS [netcraft.com] While I run and push Linux, Solaris is a good OS and ZFS will be decent in years to come (still buggy). I find it interesting that Netapp decided to sue over this. These system do not really compete against each other.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Solaris is a good OS and ZFS will be decent in years to come (still buggy).

      When used in a server environment, Solaris isn't merely a "good" OS. It's an excellent OS. In terms of scalability, it doesn't have any competitors. OSes like Linux, HP-UX, and AiX still can't match it, although they usually don't fare too badly themselves.

      And ZFS is very stable. Although it's a relatively new product, it has still gone through many years of strenuous testing within Sun, plus even more outside in the real world. It's
      • At work (currently verizonbusiness), I am on Solaris. And we have found bugs in ZFS (as well as containers). While I am impressed by aspects of it, it HAS bugs.
        • by swordgeek (112599)
          Care to elaborate? We use it extensively, and have found bugs in the past which are long since (i.e. ~8 months) patched.

          I've seen a fair number of bugs in Solaris lately, but absolutely none related to ZFS in well over half a year.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Kent Recal (714863)
            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
      • by jedidiah (1196)
        Scalability? No Competitors?

        AIX and Linux will both quite handily scale as far as Solaris if not further.

        Tru64 plain wiped the floor with Solaris.

        This notion that Solaris is alone on some pinnacle is just fanboy nonsense.
    • by makomk (752139)
      That would be because they don't hate Sun. I think part of the reason they're suing was that Sun were being assholes over licensing the patents they own and are currently using against NetApp, and they wanted a better deal...
  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @07:09AM (#21252831)
    Here [netapp.com]'s NetApps CEO's blog post about this.
    • by DingerX (847589) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @08:56AM (#21253271) Journal
      Very cute. But there's a huge problem here. Let's assume everything that NetApp claims is true: That WAFL contains a bunch of unique ideas that are patent-worthy and protected by patent, and that ZFS infringes on them in a non-trivial manner.

      Okay, so what are you going to do? Sue Sun?

      If so, you'd better hope that there's nothing in Sun's patent portfolio that you're infringing upon. The way software patents have gotten these days, it's a pretty fair bet that NetApp runs afoul of at least a few of Sun's 14,000 patents.

      To reassure folks internally, Dave appeals to ignorance:

      "Can you ever remember a Fortune 1000 company being shut down by patents?

      There's always a first time. And maybe that's what it will take to reform the system. While Sun can wave the F/OSS flag as they battle NetApp, they will end up proving a few scary points about the current state of the patent system:

      1) If a company tries to use software patents the way they were intended, it will only be successful against companies smaller than themselves. The big boys will insist on a portfolio exchange; if that fails, one party will end up looking like SCO.
      2) The only way to get money out of the "big infringers" is to have a company with zero liability of patent infringement, such as one with a litigation-based business model.
      3) Software patents are a barrier to entry for small companies, and a perpetual liability.
      • by dkf (304284)

        1) If a company tries to use software patents the way they were intended, it will only be successful against companies smaller than themselves. The big boys will insist on a portfolio exchange; if that fails, one party will end up looking like SCO.

        This is Patent MADness.

        2) The only way to get money out of the "big infringers" is to have a company with zero liability of patent infringement, such as one with a litigation-based business model.

        Or to be a company that has changed what sector it operates in. Does happen (e.g. that's what really happened to Eolas which meant that MS couldn't get back at them).

        3) Software patents are a barrier to entry for small companies, and a perpetual liability.

        Not perpetual. Just a long time. (And submarine patents manage to make a mockery of even that. I think the patent protection period should be from date of filing, which strongly discourages submarine patents.)

    • [Sun CEO] Jonathan's claim that "you cannot unfree what is free" sets a very dangerous precedent. It says that you can steal anything, as long as you open source it afterwards.
      The record shows that everyone who deliberately confuses this issue this is a liar - RIAA anyone? - so that's made my mind up.
  • 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]

    • Lets ignore the whole unverifiable "intermediary" Sun's CEO brought up and lets also ignore Netapp's claim that Sun contacted them 18 months before that post.

      The only real proof Netapp's CEO has provided is an email which states there were demands over one and a half year before December 2006 (so 27 months before that post, can't be the same communication he is talking about unless he doesn't know what he is talking about). Which puts it well before the takeover. Question is, did Sun push for them to enter
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by GauteL (29207)
      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.
  • After reading the summary, I am not quite clear on who sued whom, who infringed whose patent and who the, ah, "good guys" are here.

    I know, RTFA. But the summary could be a bit clearer.
  • Here's the short summary: It's a biggest dick war between two idiotic ego-driven CEOs, that's gotten out of hand.

    If you dig far enough, NetApp asked Sun about disclosure on patents. Sun replied, NetApp said that's not good enough, Sun said, bite us, NetApp said we'll sue, Sun said we'll give you the info you want if you agree not to sue and pay us $36mil (or thereabouts), NetApp sued, Sun countersued, and so forth.

    I use NetApp and Sun gear daily, and have done for years (decades?) now. Both are pretty much
  • What can NetApp's patent do that Digital Equipment Corporation's AdvFS [wikipedia.org] couldn't do in the 1990s?

    Software patent thugs, a pox on all your houses!
    • by makomk (752139)
      It's not just a question of what it can do, it's a question of how it does it. Without more info, I can't tell if AdvFS works in anything like the way WAFL and ZFS do, but it probably doesn't.
      • by EvilRyry (1025309)
        I believe the big issue is how ZFS guarantees that the FS will be in a consistent state after a crash without using a journal.
    • "What can NetApp's patent do that Digital Equipment Corporation's AdvFS couldn't do in the 1990s? "

      Survive.
  • Mr Schwartz is pissed as hell.
  • One of the first things your lawyers tell you when you are involved in litigation is to shut up about it. Why is Sun blogging about a case they are actively involved in?
  • 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.

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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