Play hard? We’ll show you playing hard. First EMC sued flash storage upstart Pure Storage for alleged improper staff recruitment and use of EMC proprietary data (PDF), charges which Pure denied. Even as the startup has hit back with some serious allegations of its own, EMC lobbed another sueball at Pure the very same day, alleging the minnow infringed five of EMC's patents.
Storage giant EMC dominates the market and has recently announced its XtremIO all-flash array’s general availability. Pure, meanwhile, is a four-year-old startup which focuses on flash storage technology.
Pure filed its response to the staff-poaching allegations with the Massachusetts District Court on Tuesday, as the Wall Street Journal reports.
The filed papers allege: “Just over a year ago, EMC surreptitiously obtained a Pure Storage array, absconded with the device to EMC offices, and unlawfully tested the machine to learn the trade secrets underlying Pure Storage’s success” – adding it had “found the machine damaged to such an extent that it could not be reused or resold.”
It continued: “EMC’s theft was not an isolated incident, but part of an institutional practice that routinely employs unlawful, anti-competitive means to dominate the data storage market.”
Meanwhile, EMC said of its patent suit against Pure: “This latest patent infringement lawsuit is further evidence that Pure Storage has engaged in unauthorised use of EMC’s proprietary and patented technology. We are simply taking the necessary legal action to protect EMC’s rights.”
The patents refer to deduplication, error correction and read and write IO scheduling, and Pure said it was reviewing the claims.
Dietzen’s blog war
Pure CEO Scott Dietzen has been furiously blogging about the affair, saying: “This action by EMC is not particularly surprising. Pure set out to do something extraordinary by delivering all flash storage below the price of disk, and our success has been profoundly disruptive to the storage incumbents.”
Whatever the outcome, the legal actions are certainly a gold-plated marketing gift for Pure Storage, boosting the startup's profile considerably.
Here’s Dietzen again: “We are now in the process of reviewing the EMC patent claims, but as the first mover in all-flash arrays, we are very confident in the strength of our own IP portfolio. Moreover, Pure Storage is sufficiently well capitalised (and we have our entire $150 million recent round in the bank) to successfully defend ourselves, as well as to indemnify our customers and partners from any fallout, no matter how unlikely.”
Pure is clearly out to leverage its rising profile to gain credibility, raise its market awareness, and pump up the claimed superiority of its product offering - whether it wins these lawsuits or not. ®