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09 September 2010, 16:20

NetApp and Oracle lift ZFS patent cloud

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A long running legal battle between NetApp and Sun Microsystems, which centered on the open source ZFS filesystem, has come to an end. NetApp has announced that it has agreed with Oracle to dismiss patent litigation.

The case began in 2007 when NetApp sued Sun, demanding that it be declared not in violation of three of Sun's patents while Sun's ZFS filesystem be declared in violation of seven of NetApp's patents. Sun countersued NetApp and the case has been working its way through the legal system. [update]Apple closed its ZFS project in what apparently was the result of legal issues surrounding ZFS, which may have included the uncertainty created by the patent dispute[/update].

Now, Oracle, Sun Microsystem's new owner, has agreed with NetApp to dismiss all pending patent litigation. The companies did not disclose the terms of the agreement but NetApp's CEO, Tom Georgens, said the company will "continue to collaborate with Oracle to deliver solutions that help our mutual customers".

ZFS is used by a number of storage vendors, such as Nexenta, as a core part of their storage system. These vendors should also benefit from the dismissal of all ongoing legal action between the two parties. This, though, does not change the licence issues which stop ZFS from being integrated into the Linux kernel. ZFS is licensed under the CDDL (Common Development and Distribution Licence) which is incompatible with the kernel's GPL licence. ZFS has been integrated with FreeBSD and NetBSD, was available as part of the now defunct OpenSolaris project and is available in the OpenSolaris based, Oracle free fork Illumos.


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