Article

EMC's court victory threatens reseller

Kevin Komiega

EMC has scored a patent victory that is likely to put a storage reseller out of business. The ruling prohibits the reseller from monitoring, selling or servicing EMC hardware and software products.

EMC, Hopkinton, Mass., announced Wednesday that a U.S. District Court Judge for the Middle District of North Carolina has issued a permanent injunction against North Carolina-based Triangle Technology Services LLC, prohibiting the company from using EMC copyrighted software and trade secrets related to EMC's service business.

EMC had alleged that Triangle was using EMC's copyrighted maintenance software, training materials, engineering documents and other EMC intellectual property without EMC's authorization.

Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst for the Enterprise Storage Group Inc., Milford, Mass., said that Triangle consists of a group of former EMC service technicians that set up their own EMC service company.

"The bottom line is they were inappropriately using EMC knowledge and [training] materials, got caught, and got slapped," Duplessie said. "I don't think they will be in this business much longer."

Triangle Technology spokesperson Mindy Barbee said that EMC and Triangle entered into an agreement late last month under which Triangle would exit the EMC support services business.

In --> 96, Triangle

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established a maintenance support services program designed to support third-party maintenance companies that wanted to provide service for EMC equipment. Triangle's program provided second-level technical support, spare parts, remote support capabilities, and technical training to third-party maintenance companies.

Barbee said that most major manufacturers, "other than EMC," recognize and support the third-party maintenance business.

She added that Triangle's sister company, MVSS International, will continue to provide maintenance support for products from IBM Corp., Storage Technology Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., and other manufacturers.

StorageTek Corp., which lists Triangle Technology Services as a partner and expects the reseller to be an attendee at its annual Forum 2002 IT user conference in Denver this week, would not comment on its relationship with Triangle but did issue a brief statement Wednesday afternoon.

"StorageTek remains committed to ensuring that our customers receive the highest level of technical support, whether through StorageTek directly or through our valued business partners and vendors," said Robin Raulf-Sager, StorageTek's public relations manager.

Greg Eden, EMC's corporate public relations manager, said that the judge's decision in this case sent a clear message to Triangle and to others in the storage industry that might be considering copyright infringement against EMC or anyone else.

"The court is going to protect intellectual property," Eden said.

Triangle, which acquires and resells aftermarket IT equipment from EMC and others, had no official partner relationship with EMC.

After repeatedly requesting that Triangle stop using EMC's diagnostic tools, engineering materials and best practices for the service and support of EMC products, EMC brought claims of copyright infringement and trade secret misappropriation against Triangle in the U.S. District Court in North Carolina earlier this year.

The victory over Triangle is one small win on the list of EMC's current court battles.

Last month, on the same day Hewlett-Packard filed a patent infringement suit against EMC, EMC returned the favor with a patent complaint of its own.

EMC filed suit against HP in the U.S. District Court in Worcester, Mass., on Sept. 30.

According to the complaint, certain HP data storage products infringe on six patents owned by EMC. Those patents include four that are the foundation of EMC's Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF) and TimeFinder software products. Two other EMC patents, relating to data migration and the storage of mainframe data, are also included in the suits.

The complaint mirrors the suit EMC filed against HP's partner, Hitachi Data Systems Corp., last April.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Users find HP-EMC legal battle good sport, but that's about it

Hitachi countersues EMC over data storage patents

Triangle Technology Services LLC.

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