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Sun Sees Red, Sues Azul

By David Utter

Sun Microsystem's acquisition of Cobalt Networks in September 2000 has made it back into the headlines, as Sun files a lawsuit against former Cobalt and current Azul CEO Stephen DeWitt over theft of trade secrets and violation of a non-compete agreement.

When Cobalt announced its Qube device, a small blue box that could act as a server appliance and provide easy home or small-office networking, it impressed then-high flying Sun to pick up the company in a stock for stock merger. DeWitt came along and became a Sun employee.

Fast forward to 2002, when in October of that year DeWitt ditched Sun to be CEO of Azul Systems, a maker of server appliances.

Sun didn't like what it saw. Through 2005, Sun and Azul met to discuss whether or not Azul's products infringed on Sun's patents, Mercury News reported. That didn't work out very well.

"Azul has spent the last year negotiating with Sun while they have threatened us with belligerent requests to be granted a significant ownership in Azul, in addition to cash and royalty payments," Bob Haslam, an Azul attorney, said in a statement.

In March, Azul sued Sun and tried to gain declaratory relief from its demands. In turn, Sun has countersued, and claimed infringement and violation of non-compete agreements. Sun also alleges the DeWitt and Azul have lured workers away from Sun; Azul VP of marketing Shahin Khan formerly worked for Sun, as did several other Azul employees.

Linux Electrons said the "controversy centers around Azul Systems network attached processing solution, designed to deliver compute and memory resources as a shared network service."

Available from CrossTec, Activeworx Security Center includes new features for meeting SOX and HIPAA compliance requirements, improved tools for forensic investigation, and much more.

Sun believes that technology came from it, as several of Azul's former Sun employees had access to the code. They may have infringed on technology pertaining to chip communication systems, transactional memory, data processing, chip communication systems, and software garbage collection.

The relationship between Sun and Azul has not always been this acrimonious. Azul has been a licensee of Java technology, and maintained a good standing in its relationship with Sun.

In 2005, a pair of Azul engineers spoke at the JavaOne Conference in a session titled "Java Technology Performance Myths Exposed." One of those engineers, Cliff Clack, is listed on this year's schedule for JavaOne for a couple of sessions on Thursday, May 18th.

About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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