McData sues Brocade over patent infringement

Storage networking vendor McData is suing rival Brocade Communications Systems for patent infringement, claiming that at least two Brocade products use its technology for measuring data traffic flow on storage area networks.

Both McData and Brocade manufacture switches, which direct data flow across SANs, high-speed sub-networks that interconnect different kinds of data storage devices with associated data servers.

Colorado-based McData filed the suit in the US District Court for Colorado for infringement on patent No. 6,233,236, which represents technology for "filtering and measuring frame traffic within a switch" and that can be used to move data along faster and avoid bottlenecks in the network.

Thomas McGimpsey, vice president and general counsel at McData, said his company's 25 patents are valuable company assets, adding that "this action is a clear signal to the market that McData will vigorously assert its intellectual property rights against infringements".

"We strongly believe that Brocade has been selling and offering for sale products that infringe our patent," he said in a statement.

San Jose-based Brocade responded quickly to the allegations, saying that they are "without merit" and that it intends to defend the lawsuit vigorously.

McData, which was spun off from EMC in February last year, manufactures high-end switches called directors that have up to 64 ports and are completely redundant for increased reliability.

A McData spokeswoman said the lawsuit specifically targets Brocade's Silkworm 3800, a 2Gbps, 16-port switch; its highest-end SilkWorm 12000 64/128-port switch; "and any other products that they claim have frame filtering".

The 12000 is Brocade's most recent product and is a direct challenge to McData's high-end offerings.

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