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Vixel Slings Suit at Brocade

Storage switch vendor Vixel Corp. (Nasdaq: VIXL) said late last week that it is suing competitor Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) for allegedly infringing on three of its Fibre Channel-related patents (see Vixel Sues Brocade).

Filing the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California last Friday, Vixel claimed Brocade has infringed on the patents to produce and sell various SAN switching products, including SilkWorm features like QuickLoop and Fabric Assist.

A Brocade spokeswoman says the company is still trying to identify whether the papers have been served, and it therefore cannot yet comment on whether or not the lawsuit has any merit. Vixel -- which says it uses the patented technology for, among other things, its InSpeed embedded storage switch product line -- also declined to offer any further comments on its lawsuit.

The three patents in question are U.S. patent numbers 6,185,203, titled "Fibre Channel Switching Fabric"; 6,470,007, called "Interconnection System for Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop Including Private Loop Devices"; and 6,118,776, called "Methods and Apparatus for Fibre Channel Interconnection of Private Loop Devices." All three patents are based on applications filed by Vixel CTO Stuart Berman in 1997.

The third patent in particular seems to be hotly contested. On the last day of February, Vixel filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware against QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC) for infringing on the very same patent (see Vixel Sues QLogic). A QLogic spokesman declined to comment on that ongoing lawsuit.

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