ZFS licensing question

Matt Simerson matt at corp.spry.com
Wed Oct 28 18:43:01 UTC 2009

There is far more too it than has been made public, and all the  
conjecture in the world isn't likely to clear it up for us.

If you post a link to one side of the story, you should at least post  
a link to the other side. Here's a couple updates from Sun's legal  

   Oct 2008: http://www.sun.com/lawsuit/zfs/
   Jun 2008: http://blogs.sun.com/dillon/entry/netapp_draft
   Oct 2008: http://blogs.sun.com/dillon/entry/more_on_the_netapp_litigation
   Oct 2008: http://blogs.netapp.com/dave/2008/10/current-status.html

It appears that Sun is besting NetApp. Sun has gotten numerous NetApp  
patent claims invalidated, including all claims for one of NetApp's  
self described 'core' patents.  Sun has also had a few of its patent  
claims dismissed, but they have a larger arsenal which which they are  
countersuing. If I were to put some skin in the game, I'd put money on  

But what about Apple?

Apple needs a next generation file system, and they need it last year.  
Or 2-3 years ago. Hence Apple's interest in ZFS. But the case is  
already 2 years old and Sun is filing motions to stay the suit for  
even longer, giving the US PTO office time to review and  invalidate  
even more patent claims. If Apple committed to and deployed ZFS, they  
could easily be on the hook for many millions of dollars in licensing  
fees down the road. It could end up costing them far more than  
building a next generation FS for Mac OS X in house.

And what about FreeBSD?

This is what MLP had to say at http://blogs.sun.com/jonathan/entry/harvesting_from_a_troll

> First, the basics. Sun indemnifies all its customers against IP  
> claims like this. That is, we've always protected our markets from  
> trolls, so customers can continue to use ZFS without concern for  
> spurious patent and copyright issues. We stand behind our  
> innovation, and our customers.


On Oct 28, 2009, at 9:30 AM, Kris Kennaway wrote:

> Patrick Proniewski wrote:
>> Hello,
>> Well, I understand this list is mainly interested in implementation  
>> and tuning, but I'm sure some of you are well informed about  
>> licensing issues.
>> Recently, Apple giving up on ZFS has made the headlines. *It  
>> appears* to be related to the NetApp vs. Sun case (<http://www.netapp.com/us/company/news/press-releases/news_rel_20070905.html 
>> >). And *it appears* Sun tried to impose a license that would make  
>> Apple responsible for IP infringement in case Sun would lose  
>> against NetApp.
>> It makes me wonder about the FreeBSD port of ZFS. Do you have  
>> further informations about the licensing of ZFS technology, and  
>> about the case of FreeBSD port ?
> I don't think anyone from FreeBSD has additional details to  
> contribute about Apple's decision, and as far as we're aware nothing  
> has changed with respect to ZFS licensing.
> Kris
> _______________________________________________
> freebsd-fs at freebsd.org mailing list
> http://lists.freebsd.org/mailman/listinfo/freebsd-fs
> To unsubscribe, send any mail to "freebsd-fs-unsubscribe at freebsd.org"

More information about the freebsd-fs mailing list