According to Network Appliance’s Dave Hitz, the story starts one year and a half ago, when the company was told by Sun’s lawyers that it was infringing on some on the latter’s patents. NepApp’s response was to come up with accusations of its own and tell Sun that it’s ZFS was in fact infringing on several of NetApp’s WAFL patents. Also, the company said that Sun’s claims were not valid.

Later on, the company went further and filed the suit against Sun because “after we pointed out the WAFL patents, their lawyers stopped getting back to us.” In the filing NepApp asks for the court to stop Sun’s sales and development of ZFS technology, plus unspecified damages.

Sun’s Jonathan Schwartz came up with its own statement and, as you may expect, it tells a completely different story:

"Sun did not approach NetApps about licensing any of Sun’s patents and never filed complaints against NetApps or demanded anything.

NetApps first approached StorageTek behind the cover of a third party intermediary (yes, it sounds weird, doesn’t it?) seeking to purchase STK patents. After Sun acquired STK, we were not willing to sell the patents, We’ve always been willing to license them. But instead of engaging in licensing discussions, NetApp decided to file a suit to invalidate them. To be clear, we never filed a complaint or threatened to do so, nor did anyone, to the best of my knowledge, in the ZFS community.”

Who’s right and who’s not? Our bet is the the truth lies hidden somewhere in the middle and it will be up to the court to dig it up.