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NetApp Picks Up Auspex Patents

Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) has entered a winning bid of $8,975,000 for the 50-plus patent portfolio of Auspex Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ASPX), the pioneering NAS vendor that filed for bankruptcy in April (see Auspex Shuts Down and Auspex Files for Bankruptcy).

J. Michael Kelly, a partner at Cooley Godward LLP and head of the San Francisco law firm's creditors rights and bankruptcy group, is representing Auspex in its bankruptcy proceedings. He says NetApp's offer came at a court auction last Friday, June 13.

"We were pleased," Kelly says of the amount of NetApp's bid.

According to Kelly, other bidders for the Auspex patents included EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT).

The Auspex patents cover a variety fundamental technologies used in NAS systems, including U.S. Patent No. 5,931,918 for "Parallel I/O network file server architecture." This patent, a continuation of one originally issued to Auspex in 1992, essentially describes the architecture of a NAS server, "comprising as separate processors, a network controller unit, a file controller unit, and a storage processor unit."

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