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Juniper, Palo Alto Networks Patent Dispute Heads to Trial

The patent infringement battle Juniper Networks has been waging against Palo Alto Networks since 2011 took a turn last week when Judge Sue Robinson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware pushed the legal dispute on to trial. In typical posturing, both companies are claiming a small victory.

Chris Talbot

February 10, 2014

2 Min Read
Juniper, Palo Alto Networks Patent Dispute Heads to Trial

The patent infringement battle Juniper Networks (JNPR) has been waging against Palo Alto Networks (PANW) since 2011 took a turn last week when Judge Sue Robinson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware pushed the legal dispute on to trial. In typical posturing, both companies are claiming a small victory.

The entire dispute goes back to the formation of Palo Alto Networks, which was founded by several former Juniper employees. According to Juniper, Palo Alto infringed on seven patents the networking vendor brought into its fold when it acquired NetScreen. The patents are based on firewall technology. And Juniper has maintained ever since it filed suit against Palo Alto in 2011 that the younger networking company has used that technology in building its own next-generation firewalls.

It’s a long time to be fighting within the court system, and it’s not a battle that’s over.

Juniper hoped to convince the judge that she should hand down summary judgment in its favor. Robinson is sending the dispute on to a trial. She also granted Palo Alto Networks approval of some of its requests. So Palo Alto’s CEO, Mark McLaughlin, called it a win in a prepared statement.

On the other hand, Juniper is also claiming the judgment as a win. Sure, it’s not over yet, but in a prepared statement Juniper called it “a significant ruling.” The reason? Robinson didn’t dismiss the case over the patents, which will give Juniper the ability to further argue that Palo Alto Networks infringed on patents.

It’s not surprising both played up the ruling to their own benefit. They’re big corporations. It fits within the modus operandi. But the real win will come after a trial—unless, of course, the two vendors can come to an out-of-court settlement. And that’s a bet I wouldn’t want to take.

The trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 24.

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