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NetApp Zaps BlueArc With Lawsuit

A month after acquiring Auspex's NAS patents, NetApp alleges BlueArc infringes them

One month after Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) acquired the patent portfolio of bankrupt NAS vendor Auspex Systems Inc., it has turned around and sued BlueArc Corp., claiming BlueArc has infringed three of those patents.

NetApp filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Delaware on July 15, 2003. The suit asks for unspecified monetary damages and requests that BlueArc be enjoined from its alleged infringement, which NetApp asserts is "willful and deliberate."

"NetApp believes BlueArc has infringed our patent portfolio, and we are assertively defending our intellectual property," says NetApp spokesman Eric Brown.

Chuck Joseph, BlueArc's executive VP for marketing and business development, says the company believes NetApp's lawsuit is without merit. "We utilize our own innovations, which are covered by pending patents of our own," Joseph says, adding that BlueArc implements NAS functionality directly in hardware, whereas NetApp's systems do so in software.

Noting that the patents in question were originally granted to Auspex, Joseph says, "The lawsuit brought by them is not based on any technology developed by them."

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