Juniper vs. Palo Alto Networks Legal Battle Continues

Both sides are claiming victory in a summary judgement handed down this week, but a full decision isn't coming until the case goes to trial.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Feb 7, 2014
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Juniper Networks and Palo Alto Networks have been embroiled in a bitter legal battle since at least 2011.

Palo Alto Networks was founded by a number of high-level Juniper employees in 2007. Juniper alleged that Palo Alto has infringed on a number of its patents. Palo Alto disagrees.

A summary judgement in the case was handed down on February 6th by Judge Sue L. Robinson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. Both companies are claiming it as a victory.

"We believe the ruling is consistent with our position that we do not infringe these patents," said Mark McLaughlin, chief executive officer of Palo Alto Networks, in a statement.

In a statement of its own, Juniper noted that it is also pleased with the opinion issued by the Delaware court.

"The judge granted Juniper's motion for summary judgment on assignor estoppel on all asserted patents," Juniper stated. "The significance of that ruling is that Palo Alto Networks (PAN) will not be able to claim that the patents are invalid."

The legal concept of assignor estoppel restricts the ability of a person that is granted a patent to attack that patents validity at a future point. The patents in question from Juniper were invented by the Palo Alto executives while they were still working at Juniper.

Juniper noted that Judge Robinson rejected PAN's requests to dismiss Juniper's seven patents from the case, holding that Juniper may present its claims to the jury on all patents.

Juniper has asked for summary judgement in the case that Palo Alto was in fact infringing on Juniper's patent. Judge Robinson denied that motion from Juniper, which doesn't mean the case is over. It just means the case still has to go to a trial, which is currently scheduled for February 24th.

"Juniper intends to continue vigorously defending and protecting against the willful infringement of its intellectual property, and we look forward to our upcoming day in court," Juniper stated.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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