Commvault sues startups Cohesity, Rubrik for infringing 7 patents

Commvault Systems filed its first-ever intellectual property infringement suit against two Silicon Valley startups in data management, alleging they took advantage of CommVault patented inventions pertaining to things such as metadata and de-duplication of containerized cloud-based workloads.

commvault-cloud-data-deduplication.png

An illustration from U.S. patent 10,248,657 awarded to Commvault last year, Data object store and server for a cloud storage environment."

Commvault Systems.

Venerable enterprise software technology vendor Commvault Systems on Tuesday morning said it filed suit in federal court in Delaware against startups Cohesity, Inc., and Rubrik, Inc., both based in Silicon Valley, for collectively infringing on seven patents Commvault owns spanning a range of technologies for functions including back-ups of system images and cloud computing and virtual machine management.

The suit is the first time that Commvault, based in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, has ever sued a company for infringing on its intellectual property in its 26-year history, Marcus Muller, vice president and chief IP counsel for Commvault, told ZDNet

"Our action is about fair competition," Muller told ZDNet. "Commvault have been a pioneer for two decades. We didn't engage in this lightly, we had no choice given widespread and increasing infringement."

A spokesperson for Rubrik, responding to ZDnet's enquiry, stated, "Rubrik does not comment on pending litigation." ZDNet has reached out to Cohesity for comment and will update this article if comment is provided.

The suit alleges infringement by the startups upon seven U.S. patents, granted between 2010 and 2019, numbered 7,725,671, 7,840,533, 8,447,728, 8,762,335, 9,740,723, 10,210,048, and 10,248,657. (Hyperlinks lead to patent filing documents at the U.S. Patent Office.)

Cohesity, founded in 2013 and based in San Jose, and Rubrik, founded in 2014 and based in Palo Alto, are grouped in what Gartner calls the "Data Center Backup and Recovery" market. They are also both also associated with the notion of data management in general. 

Cohesity's "DataProtect" is billed as a backup and recovery application that can run across "core to the cloud and edge." Rubrik bills its "cloud data management" as "a single software platform that delivers backup, instant recovery, archival, search, analytics, compliance, and copy data management in one secure fabric across data centers and clouds."

The seven patents asserted by Commvault mention technologies such as maintaining a "metabase" of file and folder information to speed the time it takes to find out what objects are in data storage (patent 7,725,671), to deduplication of containerized cloud computing environments (patent 10,248,657).

In the court filings, which were made as separate suits for each of the two companies, Commvault refers to both Cohesity and Rubrik as "a newcomer to the data storage and protection industry."

The main claim, which is phrased identically for both companies, is that they have "repeatedly adopted and impermissibly appropriated Commvault-patented inventions" as part of their "introduction of cloud archive integration, virtual machine protection, and policy-based security restrictions, among other proprietary features, to its products."

Both companies have "wrongfully short-circuited the research-and-development process, minimized the investment necessary to have competitive products, and forced Commvault to compete against its own inventions."

Update: Cohesity responded to ZDNet with a statement by Chief Marketing Officer Lynn Lucas:

"It is not uncommon for legacy vendors to attempt to disrupt the disruptors with frivolous lawsuits in an attempt to stifle innovation and sales. In this case, we were made aware of Commvault's lawsuit not by their legal representatives but via the media. We believe there is no merit to this complaint, and we will of course stand our ground and defend our technology vigorously. 

This complaint appears to be an attempt to slow our rapid growth and impede our accelerating success. Our view is that innovation can't be stopped. We believe the market is excited about our vision and extraordinary solutions, as evidenced by our recent $250 million Series E funding round and the 100 percent increase we've seen in customers as well as data under management."