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NetApp-Sun ZFS Litigation Settled

In case you’ve forgotten the muddle, NetApp sued Sun Microsystems back in 2007

NetApp and Oracle have called off their ZFS litigation, settling without telling anybody what the terms of the settlement are or if anybody's licensing anything from anybody or paying any royalties. However, NetApp said Thursday that it and Oracle want the lawsuits dropped without prejudice, meaning neither of them is retreating from their position and the thing could flair all over again or presumably with somebody else.

In case you've forgotten the muddle, NetApp sued Sun Microsystems back in 2007 claiming that the vaunted Zettabyte File System (ZFS) that Sun open sourced in 2005 infringed on seven of its patents.

At the very least it wanted Sun to stop insisting that NetApp was infringing on three Sun patents and definitely wanted Sun to stop demanding royalties.

A very putout Sun, after claiming NetApp had tried to buy the Sun patents it was now looking down its nose at and wanting ZFS un-open sourced, then sued NetApp back for infringement (twice actually), claiming NetApps' patents were invalid.

In disclosing the settlement Thursday NetApp CEO Tim Georgens made a point of saying, "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," perhaps revealing a pressure point who knows.

Sun also got some favorable rulings from the court and the Patent Office last year like a decision that it didn't infringe NetApp patent 6,892,211 while the PTO rejected some of NetApp's claims involving patent 5,818,292 on the basis of prior art but not enough for NetApp to turn tail.

The settlement should presumably - underscore presumably - make Coraid, Nexenta, Compellent and GreenBytes, which all use ZFS, happy. Coraid just got a cease-and-desist a few weeks ago from NetApp concerning its ZFS-using EtherDrive Z-series NAS widgetry, but that's as far as NetApp's lawyers went down the list, suggesting they may be safe.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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