Crossroads Hits Patent Warpath

Vendor accuses 10 firms of infringing its storage patents

May 28, 2008

3 Min Read
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Data protection specialist Crossroads Systems is suing a total of 10 vendors, including Compellent and Storage Engine, for alleged infringement of its storage router and virtualization technologies.

The lawsuit, which was filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, is the latest in a string of storage-related legal battles. Last month, for example, STEC and Seagate locked horns in a patent dispute, following in the footsteps of NetApp and Sun and Quantum and Riverbed.

Crossroadss complaint involves U.S. Patent numbers 6,425,035 and 7,051,147, which are entitled “storage router and method for providing virtual local storage," according to the IP Law 360 Website.

In addition to Compellent and Storage Engine, other vendors named in the suit include Accusys, Auragen Technologies, Digi-Data Corp., Rave Computer Association., Ci Design Europe, Arena-Maxtronic, Baydel North America, and Inline Corp.

Each of the defendants is alleged to have infringed the '035 patent, and all of the defendants, except for Auragen and Bayden, are alleged to have infringed the '147 patent, according to IP Law 360.This is not the first time that Crossroads has chased other vendors through the courts. In 2006 Dot Hill reached a settlement in a patent dispute with Crossroads concerning patents 6,425,035 and 5,941,972, which control access between hosts and storage devices in a networked storage environment. Under the terms of the settlement, Dot Hill made a $10.5 million cash payment to Crossroads and agreed to pay 2.5 percent ongoing royalties on net sales of products that use Crossroads’s technologies.

When it won its legal battle with Dot Hill, Crossroads vowed to continue what it described as an industry-wide "intellectual property campaign,” which is now coming to fruition.

DLA Piper, the law firm that handled the Dot Hill case, for example, is also involved in the latest Crossroads lawsuit, along with patent specialists Sprinkle Law.

A spokeswoman for Crossroads referred Byte and Switch to Sprinkle Law today, although the Austin, Texas-based firm did not respond to a request for comment.

Crossroads’s decision to start legal action against the likes of Compellent and Storage Engine may have its roots in the company’s recent financial performance. The vendor’s first quarter revenues from IP licensing and royalties were $2.7 million, down from almost $3 million in the same period last year.The increasingly uncertain economic climate is also driving the current host of storage-related lawsuits, underlining vendors’ desire to protect every potential revenue stream.

Storage Engine was unavailable for comment today, and a spokesman for SAN specialist Compellent told Byte and Switch that he was unable to comment on the case.

What do you think about the current raft of storage lawsuits? Why not tell us about it on the latest Byte and Switch storage poll.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Accusys Inc.

  • Crossroads Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CRDS)

  • Digi-Data Corp.

  • Dot Hill Systems Corp. (Nasdaq: HILL)

  • Inline Corp.

  • NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Quantum Corp. (NYSE: QTM)

  • Riverbed Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: RVBD)

  • Seagate Technology Inc. (NYSE: STX)

  • STEC Inc.

  • Storage Engine Inc.

  • Sun Microsystems Inc.

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