Novell moves against former employees' start-up

Novell is suing a start-up company, Wolf Mountain Group, which was formed only weeks ago by a group of ex-Novell engineers. WMG has raised eyebrows by not only releasing a clustering software product, but naming itself after Novell's own, still-unreleased clustering software. Novell is alleging, among other things, breach of contract, misappropriation and trademark infringement.

Novell has initiated legal action this week against a start-up company, Wolf Mountain Group, which was formed only weeks ago by a group of ex-Novell engineers.

Novell has filed a lawsuit with a state court in Provo, Utah, gainst the Wolf Mountain Group (WMG) . Some of the former Novell workers were among the central architects of Novell's efforts to develop clustering software called Wolf Mountain.

Novell named three ex-Novell engineers - Jeff Merkey, Darren Major, and Larry Angus - in the lawsuit, charging them with intellectual property infringement, trademark infringement with the Wolf Mountain name, misappropriation of trades secrets, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty as employees of Novell, says David Bradford, head of Novell law department and general counsel on the case.

"If while at Novell, Jeff Merkey was spawning all of these ideas to launch this separate company, then he's guilty of a breach of contract," says Bradford.

Industry analysts point out that announcing a product just weeks after forming a company, as WMG is doing, is a little fishy.

"How can the Wolf Mountain Group announce anything if they didn't take the code with them from Novell?" says Summit Strategies analyst Laurie McCabe.

Analysts also say there is a great deal of confusion over the use of the name Wolf Mountain, which describes both Novell's own, still-unreleased clustering software, and the new company.

WMG is promising similar capabilities to Novell's Wolf Mountain software in a product called Tapestry, which was set to be announced this week, according to Wolf Mountain Group officials.

WMG claims its Tapestry product can extend the scalability of Microsoft's Wolfpack clustering software, which currently only supports two servers, and can link Intel-based servers running Windows NT, NetWare, or SCO Unix operating environments.

The original design for Novell's Wolf Mountain software was very similar to the Wolf Mountain Group's Tapestry product, McCabe says, with support for more than just NetWare clusters.

It's unclear what Novell's current plans are for its clustering software; no release date has been announced for its Wolf Mountain product to cluster Intel-based servers, and company officials declined to discuss their plans for the software.

For more information on WMG's Tapestry product, see http://www.wolfmountaingroup.com/.

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