Palo Alto Networks threatens to sue security startup for comparison review, says it breaks software EULA

'I'm not going to be bullied by someone with deeper pockets' vows Orca boss


Palo Alto Networks has threatened a startup with legal action after the smaller biz published a comparison review of one of its products.

Israel-based Orca Security received a cease-and-desist letter from a lawyer representing Palo Alto after Orca uploaded a series of online videos reviewing of one of Palo Alto's products and compared it to its own. Orca sees itself as a competitor of Palo Alto Networks (PAN).

“What we expected is that others will also create such materials ... but instead we received a letter from Palo Alto’s lawyers claiming we were not allowed to do that,” Orca chief exec Avi Shua told The Register this week. “We believe these are empty legal threats.”

In a note on its website, Orca lamented at length the “outrageous” behavior of PAN, as well as posting a copy of the lawyer’s letter for world-plus-dog to read. That letter claimed Orca infringed PAN's trademarks by using its name and logo in the review as well as breaching non-review clauses in the End-User License Agreement (EULA) of PAN's product.

As such, the lawyer demanded the removal of the comparison material, and that the startup stop using PAN's logo and name. We note the videos are still online, hosted by YouTube.

panic

If you haven't potentially exposed 1000s of customers once again with networking vulns, step forward... Not so fast, Palo Alto Networks

READ MORE

“It’s outrageous that the world’s largest cybersecurity vendor, its products being used by over 65,000 organizations according to its website, believes that its users aren’t entitled to share any benchmark or performance comparison of its products,” said Orca.

The lawyer’s letter [PDF] claimed Orca violated PAN’s EULA fine-print, something deputy general counsel Melinda Thompson described in her missive as “a clear breach” of terms “prohibiting an end user from disclosing, publishing or otherwise making publicly available any benchmark, performance or comparison tests… run on Palo Alto Networks products, in whole or in part.”

Shua told The Register Orca tried to give its rival a fair crack of the whip: “Even if we tried to be objective, we would have some biases. But we did try to do it as objectively as possible, by showing it to users: creating labs, screenshots, and showing how it looks like.” The fairness of the review, we note, is not what is at issue here: PAN forbids any kind of benchmarking and comparison of its gear.

Palo Alto networks declined to comment when contacted by The Register.

Orca’s boss believes a law in PAN’s home state of California makes it impossible to prohibit the publishing of reviews, and also cited a case in New York where prosecutors sued McAfee, under its short-lived corporate name of Network Associates Inc, for banning reviews in its EULAs.

When asked what he thought the outcome of this latest battle would be, Shua said he hoped PAN would “simply remove these clauses from the EULA,” insisting “so many people from the industry” don’t support bans on reviews. He also added, in another shot across PAN’s bows, that if formal legal action ensues, “it’ll cost us a lot of money but it won’t break Orca. I’m not going to be bullied into not doing something because someone else has deeper pockets.” ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Cheers ransomware hits VMware ESXi systems
    Now we can say extortionware has jumped the shark

    Another ransomware strain is targeting VMware ESXi servers, which have been the focus of extortionists and other miscreants in recent months.

    ESXi, a bare-metal hypervisor used by a broad range of organizations throughout the world, has become the target of such ransomware families as LockBit, Hive, and RansomEXX. The ubiquitous use of the technology, and the size of some companies that use it has made it an efficient way for crooks to infect large numbers of virtualized systems and connected devices and equipment, according to researchers with Trend Micro.

    "ESXi is widely used in enterprise settings for server virtualization," Trend Micro noted in a write-up this week. "It is therefore a popular target for ransomware attacks … Compromising ESXi servers has been a scheme used by some notorious cybercriminal groups because it is a means to swiftly spread the ransomware to many devices."

    Continue reading
  • Twitter founder Dorsey beats hasty retweet from the board
    As shareholders sue the social network amid Elon Musk's takeover scramble

    Twitter has officially entered the post-Dorsey age: its founder and two-time CEO's board term expired Wednesday, marking the first time the social media company hasn't had him around in some capacity.

    Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as Twitter chief exec in November 2021, and passed the baton to Parag Agrawal while remaining on the board. Now that board term has ended, and Dorsey has stepped down as expected. Agrawal has taken Dorsey's board seat; Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor has assumed the role of Twitter's board chair. 

    In his resignation announcement, Dorsey – who co-founded and is CEO of Block (formerly Square) – said having founders leading the companies they created can be severely limiting for an organization and can serve as a single point of failure. "I believe it's critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder's influence or direction," Dorsey said. He didn't respond to a request for further comment today. 

    Continue reading
  • Snowflake stock drops as some top customers cut usage
    You might say its valuation is melting away

    IPO darling Snowflake's share price took a beating in an already bearish market for tech stocks after filing weaker than expected financial guidance amid a slowdown in orders from some of its largest customers.

    For its first quarter of fiscal 2023, ended April 30, Snowflake's revenue grew 85 percent year-on-year to $422.4 million. The company made an operating loss of $188.8 million, albeit down from $205.6 million a year ago.

    Although surpassing revenue expectations, the cloud-based data warehousing business saw its valuation tumble 16 percent in extended trading on Wednesday. Its stock price dived from $133 apiece to $117 in after-hours trading, and today is cruising back at $127. That stumble arrived amid a general tech stock sell-off some observers said was overdue.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022