5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending May 30

This week's roundup of companies that had a rough week include Palo Alto Networks' $175 million patent suit settlement, Cisco's denial of China's cyberspying charges, Hewlet-Packard's loss of its cloud evangelist, a password data security breach at Avast, and NetApp's changed OEM relationship with IBM.

Palo Alto Networks To Pay Juniper $175 Million To Settle Patent Suit

Palo Alto Networks this week agreed to pay Juniper Networks $175 million to end a long-running patent dispute between the two companies. The settlement includes $75 million in cash, $70 million in common stock and $30 million in warrants to purchase common stock.

Juniper filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Palo Alto in 2011 accusing the company of infringing on six security patents relating to firewall technology. The suit charged that Palo Alto co-founders Nir Zuk and Yuming Mao, both former Juniper executives, built their company with Juniper's technology at its core.

Cisco Caught Up In Cyberspying Row

Cisco Systems this week denied accusations from a Chinese media outlet, China Youth Daily, that the company aids the U.S. government's alleged cyberspying efforts in China. The charges come two weeks after The Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald published photos of National Security Agency workers implanting surveillance technology in intercepted Cisco equipment going overseas.

Cisco CEO John Chambers (pictured) has had to respond to the growing controversy, speaking at the recent Cisco Live event in San Francisco to deny that Cisco is colluding with the NSA and this week sending President Barack Obama a letter asking him to curb NSA surveillance.

HP Loses Cloud Evangelist To Big Data Startup

Margaret Dawson, Hewlett-Packard's cloud evangelist and product marketing vice president until just a few days ago, has left the company to become chief marketing officer at Rival IQ, a Seattle startup that's developing market monitoring and analytics software.

Dawson's defection is a loss for HP. She played a high-visibility role at the company as it competes in the rough-and-tumble cloud computing market. The company has invested more than $1 billion in its Helion line of cloud products.

Antivirus Firm Avast Hit With Password Data Breach

It's never good news when the security guys get hacked. Antivirus software developer Avast Software had to pull the plug on its online support forum this week following a data breach that impacted about 400,000 users. The company was urging users registered on the support site to change their passwords.

The attack, which occurred over the weekend, compromised user names, nicknames, email addresses and passwords. CEO Vince Steckler said the attack was detected and quickly contained, and the company is rebuilding the forum site and moving it to a new software platform.

NetApp Hit With Reduced OEM Sales Though IBM

IBM confirmed this week that it would stop selling the IBM-branded N-series storage systems it buys from NetApp. But IBM will continue to sell storage systems based on NetApp's E-series products.

While IBM's move wasn't a big surprise, it's still a blow to NetApp. While the company has been shifting away from OEM sales to emphasize NetApp-branded sales, the company can use all the help it can get. Earlier this month NetApp reported a 6 percent drop in fiscal fourth-quarter sales, largely due to a 34 percent plunge in OEM sales.