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Keeping Pure Pure, Round 2

This afternoon Pure Storage filed its legal response to EMC’s litigation over, among other things, several of their sales alumni electing to join Pure. And later this evening EMC responded by escalating our legal dispute, filing claims that Pure Storage is allegedly infringing five EMC patents.  The Wall Street Journal summed it up here.

This action by EMC is not particularly surprising. Pure set out to do something extraordinary by delivering all flash storage below the price of disk, and our success has been profoundly disruptive to the storage incumbents.

We remain confident that Pure Storage will be fully exonerated. Pure has filed affirmative counterclaims against EMC, which are intended to shed light on their business tactics and recruiting practices, and set them in contrast to Pure’s own (see round one of Keeping Pure Pure). We are now in the process of reviewing the EMC patent claims, but as the first mover in all-flash arrays, we are very confident in the strength of our own IP portfolio.  Moreover, Pure Storage is sufficiently well capitalized (and we have our entire $150m recent round in the bank) to successfully defend ourselves, as well as to indemnify our customers and partners from any fall-out, no matter how unlikely.

It is no coincidence this comes at a time when the storage industry is poised for the most disruptive change in decades, as $15B annual spend shifts from performance (oxymoron) mechanical disk to solid-state flash. In that endeavor we welcome competition, particularly with EMC—both Pure Storage and EMC’s XtremIO are poised to benefit greatly from this transition (competitive summary here).

But let us be completely clear on this:  We did not initiate these disputes, and our goal is in no way to impede EMC’s go-to-market efforts.  Our aspiration is only that in Pure’s ongoing competition with EMC, both companies behave ethically and lawfully. What ought to be out of bounds is:

  1. A vendor harassing former employees that freely choose to join a competitor, provided those employees honor their lawful obligations to their prior employer, including safeguarding all confidential information;
  2. A vendor harassing a competitor for hiring great people that happen to be alumni of that vendor, provided the hiring company systematically works to remain squeaky clean of the confidential information of other vendors; and
  3. A vendor engaging in anti-competitive behavior, such as the improper acquisition of a competitor’s confidential information, or by threatening that a channel partner will suffer financial impact in their vendor dealings if they also choose do business with a competitor.

It is our view EMC has crossed the line in their competition with Pure, and we fully intend to defend ourselves against their accusations.

Most importantly, we do not believe these disputes are going to materially impact the future of Pure, EMC, or the storage marketplace. That is why the team here at Pure remains wholly-focused on our mission: we aspire to build the best storage company in the industry—crafting the best products, providing the best service, cultivating the best team, and competing at delivering the best value in the marketplace (rather than arguments in the courtroom). This litigation with EMC is a side show to that main event. In our view, EMC’s real intention is to slow our progress toward building the next great storage company. But to this we say: the flash tsunami will continue.

About the Author

Scott Dietzen is the CEO of Pure Storage and a three-time successful entrepreneur with WebLogic, Zimbra, and Transarc.