Juniper Slaps Patent Suit On Palo Alto


Networking giant Juniper is lashing out at Palo Alto Networks, accusing the start-up security vendor of “willful” infringement of six patents used in firewall technology.

Additionally, the complaint alleges that Palo Alto co-founders Nir Zuk and Yuming Mao -- who left Juniper to start Palo Alto in 2005 -- built their company around Juniper’s technology.

“Juniper focuses on delivering breakthrough innovations for our customers. As a leading high-performance networking company, we will take every appropriate measure to defend and protect our innovation,” the company said in a statement.

The lawsuit, filed Dec. 19th in U.S. District Court in Delaware, focuses on six patents that were picked up when Juniper paid $4 billion to acquire NetScreen Technologies in 2004. NetScreen would become Juniper’s network security division. Zuk and Mao joined Juniper with that merger, but left less than two years later to found Palo Alto in 2005.

The suit alleges that Zuk and Mao personally worked on the six patents in question when they were executives at Netscreen, and are the named inventors or co-inventors of the patents. After leaving Juniper, the claim contends the pair sought to actively recruit Juniper employees “to help them in their efforts to turn [Palo Alto Networks] into a competitor to Juniper.”

Furthermore, the suit accuses Zuk and Mao of consciously using Juniper’s intellectual property – inventions the two execs were exposed to during their tenure at NetScreen and Juniper -- to develop products for Palo Alto Networks.

Juniper is asking for unspecified damages in the suit.

Palo Alto Networks declined to comment on the matter.