A Silicon Valley firm has filed a patent infringement suit against caching and content delivery vendors that include Novell, CacheFlow, Inktomi and others.
A limited liability company called Network Caching Technology has been set up entirely to cash in on the patents.
According to William Pitts, co-founder of network-attached storage appliance provider Auspex and the founder of Inca Technology, a distributed file management software company, he and another 20 investors in Inca hold the original patents.
Pitts said for tax reasons the patent data was spun out of Inca and into Network Caching Technology.
"Inca Technology developed software, and new patents were generated in the process of the development," Pitts said. He added that he is the sole inventoron some of the patents, and joint owner with other Inca employees on additional patents.
Attorney Blaney Harper at law firm Jones Day, who is handling the case, confirmed NCT is the owner of the web caching patents at issue.
He said the company is suing Novell, Volera, Akamai, CacheFlow and Inktomi, in the Northern District Court of California, "because we believe the companies are infringing on these patents."
He said a case management conference is scheduled for 6 December in California.
"Fundamentally everyone has filed pro forma answers, alleging everything from invalidity to non-infringement," he said. "It's in a procedural hold until the beginning of December. A scheduling order will be issued and then off to the race."
Harper said there had been an ongoing discussion with Novell for quite some time, and his office had sent Novell a fair amount of material explaining the case and the reasons for the infringement.
"They did not seem to want to respond," Harper said. "So our only recourse was to file the lawsuit."
He pointed out that just before the filing, Novell spun off Valero, which is why both companies are named in the suit.
According to Harper, the dispute arose from a typical situation where the big player has decided it doesn't need to talk to others in the industry.
A corporate spokesman for Novell said the legal people are reviewing the information, "but it's too early in the case for a comment."
"Essentially, we believe Novell will prevail against the complaint, which we intend to vigorously defend," he said.
Amy Miller, a CacheFlow spokesperson, said: "As a matter of public record, CacheFlow has filed a countersuit against NCT related to this issue, and the company is adhering to a no comment policy related to the litigation."
A spokeswoman at Akamai said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
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