Showing posts from November, 2007

A cynic's view on the Sun-Network Appliance lawsuit

I've been thinking about the Sun - NetApp lawsuit, which is an interesting case that highlights what is wrong with the Patent Office in the US. I don't necessarily think that all software patents are bad, and that innovation should be rewarded with temporary monopoly on a piece of technology.

However, this lawsuit shouldn't have happened, because at least one of the patents in question should probably not have been granted in the first place. David Hitz, founder of Network Appliance, has a blog in which he contends that Sun's ZFS violates patents held by NetApp for their WAFL. If that's truly the case, Sun should certainly be held liable, and should stop publishing ZFS as open source code. You can't give away what isn't yours.

The larger issue, in my opinion, is that it seems significant claims of the WAFL patent should never have been granted. There exists a significant amount of prior art in the use of a "tree of block pointers" to maintain logica…