Juniper Networks not giving up firewall patent fight vs. Palo Alto Networks

Juniper Networks' legal battle against Palo Alto Networks claiming infringement of application-firewall patents ended in a mistrial being declared in a Delaware court, but Juniper says it intends to haul Palo Alto back into court again.

Juniper claims Palo Alto's application firewalls infringe on a number of Juniper's technical patents, and if Juniper ultimately wins this case, it could even stop Palo Alto from selling its next-generation firewalls. The jury in the U.S. District Court in Delaware that heard the arguments from both sides last week couldn't reach a unanimous verdict. That led Judge Sue Robinson to declare a mistrial last Friday and dismiss the jury. That left Palo Alto exultant, but Juniper says it doesn't consider the matter settled and will pursue its right to go back to court to argue the matter again.

"Juniper brought the suit in order to protect our intellectual property and investment in innovation; while we wish this jury had been able to reach a unanimous conclusion, we look forward to presenting our case to a new jury in the near future," Juniper said in a statement. Sources at Juniper couldn't say exactly when the next court fight would begin.

+ ALSO ON NETWORK WORLD: Juniper vs. Palo Alto Networks firewall court battle set to begin +

The Juniper vs. Palo Alto court case is widely viewed as extremely important in resolving patent ownership of key firewall-application technologies, and if Palo Alto loses this battle, its very business could be threatened.

According to how the court battle was recorded by patent attorney Daniel Ravicher on behalf of SeekingAlpha, the technical expert witnesses who were heard on Juniper's side included Avi Rubin, professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University, while on Palo Alto's side, the expert witness was Michael Mitzenmacher, professor of computer science at Harvard.

Neither of these dueling computer science professors was able to sway the jury completely. However, the result of a hung jury was enough to leave Palo Alto feeling upbeat about what had happened in court.

"From the outset, we said we would vigorously defend the Company against Juniper's lawsuit," said CEO Mark McLaughlin, adding Palo Alto would continue to stand by its position it does not infringe on Juniper patents.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail:

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