War breaks out between Brocade, A10 Networks

FRAMINGHAM — Brocade Communications Systems wants to stop sales of a competitor’s application controllers it claims infringe on its intellectual property.

Brocade [Nasdaq: BRCD] this week filed a motion in the U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., requesting the court bar A10 Networks from selling any products containing software code allegedly “stolen” from Brocade. A10 is a privately held company founded in 2004 and headquartered in San Jose.

In response, A10 filed actions of its own demanding Brocade stop selling almost all of its products.

Brocade says the motion presents evidence that A10’s AX series application delivery controllers contain verbatim copies of portions of Brocade’s proprietary code. Brocade and A10 are already wrangling in court over allegations of copyright theft, trade secret misappropriation and patent infringement, and the motion seeks to stop AX production, sales and importing leading up to that trial.

Included in the copyright theft allegations are A10 CEO Lee Chen, CTO Raj Jalan and other defendants. Brocade alleges A10 founder Chen created his company and its products using proprietary knowledge from Foundry Networks, which Chen co-founded and Brocade acquired in 2008.

Application controller leader F5 Networks Inc. is also suing A10.

In a news release issued Friday morning, A10 Networks said is reviewing the specifics of Brocade’s most recent motion in and will respond as ordered by the court. “A10 denies that its ADC products wrongfully use any proprietary Brocade code. A10 further denies that Brocade is entitled to any injunction, and believes that Brocade’s decision to publicize its new motion shows that it is intended primarily to intimidate potential A10 customers,” the release says.

“A10 will continue to defend against Brocade’s patent, copyright, and trade secret claims, and intends to further pursue its own pending claims that Brocade infringes A10’s patent rights and that Brocade itself wrongfully obtained access to A10’s proprietary technology.”
The release adds that it is now suing Brocade in California for allegedly infringing one of its patents and also seeking an injunction stopping Brocade from selling a large chunk of its products for allegedly violatating A10’s patent right. Products A10 wants off the market include Brocade’s FCX Series, FastIron Series, Mobility Access Points and Mobility Controllers, IronView Network Managers, and all Brocade Professional Services, including IP Network Infrastructure Services, IronView Network Manager, and Brocade Technical Support.
“We’re not impressed by such me-too legal maneuvering,” a Brocade spokesperson said in response to the A10 countersuit. “We stand strongly behind our assertions in the motion we filed earlier this week and in our lawsuit against A10.”

None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The Layer 4-7 server load balancer market was US$313 million in the first quarter, down eight per cent from the fourth quarter of 2010, according to Dell’Oro Group. Brocade’s ServerIron switches, from the Foundry acquisition, and F5’s BigIP and VIPRION systems compete with A10’s AX series in this market.
(Originial story from Network World U.S. Update added by Network World Canada)

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