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Intel: StreamScale’s latest patent allegations breach NDA

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Computer chip maker Intel's logo at videogames expo, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

  • Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
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  • Thompson & Knight LLP
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(Reuters) - Facing a lawsuit for willful infringement of a cloud-storage patent it declined to license from tech developer StreamScale Inc in 2015, Intel Corp fired back on Tuesday with a separate action accusing its accuser of breaching the nondisclosure agreement (NDA) that made the negotiations possible.

Intel’s complaint, filed in federal court in Northern California by attorneys at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, says the 2014 NDA expressly barred StreamScale from later using the “fact of any discussions or disclosure” to establish Intel’s knowledge of the patent, willful infringement, or induced infringement.

Yet that is precisely what StreamScale did in an amended complaint filed last month in a patent-infringement case pending before U.S. District Judge Alan Albright in Waco, Texas, Intel said.

Intel “has been, and continues to be, forced to defend itself against allegations that StreamScale contracted not to make under the express terms of the Agreement,” Wilmer lawyer Sonal Mehta wrote in the California complaint. She and Intel’s other attorneys at Wilmer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

No attorney information for StreamScale was listed in the California litigation on Tuesday. Its Texas attorneys at Thompson and Knight had no immediate response.

In the complaint filed in Texas in March, StreamScale said it holds a family of six patents that describe breakthroughs in the speed and performance of accelerated erasure coding — a method of data storage and protection — which have allowed it to become the “cornerstone” of cloud-based systems. The first patent application was filed in 2011; five continuation patents issued starting in October 2015.

StreamScale’s lawsuit named cloud data-management platform Cloudera Inc and Cloudera clients ADP Inc, Experian PLC, and Wargaming (Austin) Inc, as well as Intel. It said all defendants willfully infringed all six patents, and that Intel also knowingly induced infringement by the other defendants by hosting its Intelligent Storage Acceleration Library (ISA-L) as part of Cloudera’s platform.

Intel filed a motion to dismiss the claims against it, saying ISA-L is a collection of non-infringing open-source software. It also said that StreamScale failed to plausibly allege that it had knowledge of the patents or that its infringement, if any, was willful.

StreamScale mooted Intel’s motion to dismiss by filing an amended complaint in late May, beefing up its factual allegations by disclosing that it had “engaged in extensive written and oral communications” with Intel between September 2014 and July 2015, and that StreamScale had provided Intel “with a claim chart describing Intel’s infringement.”

In the breach of contract lawsuit filed Tuesday, Intel does not dispute that StreamScale approached it in 2014 or that they discussed the original patent.

Instead, Intel says it insisted on the NDA to ensure “frank conversations” and “good-faith assessments” about the patent’s merits, and that StreamScale’s allegations “are the very facts that StreamScale is legally required not to use in this way” under the agreement’s restrictions on future use.

“Intel and StreamScale agreed that discussions could occur so long as StreamScale would not later use them as proof of knowledge of the patents. Intel relied on these promises and these promises factored into what information Intel was willing to share with StreamScale and whether Intel was willing to meet with StreamScale at all,” Mehta wrote. “StreamScale should be held to its word.”

The case filed Tuesday is Intel Corp v. StreamScale Inc, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 21-0499. The patent infringement case is StreamScale Inc. v. Cloudera Inc. et al., U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, No. 21-198.

For Intel: Sonal Mehta and Jennifer John of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr

For StreamScale (in the Texas action): Jamie McDole and Phillip Philbin of Thompson & Knight

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