SAN JOSE, Calif. Alacritech Inc. has won a preliminary injunction prohibiting Microsoft Corp. from shipping key software to enable Ethernet acceleration in its next-generation of Windows dubbed Longhorn.
A U.S. District Court ruled Wednesday (April 13) that Microsoft's Chimney software for TCP/IP offload infringes patents held by Alacritech, a maker of Ethernet accelerator chips and adapter cards.
The Chimney software has been widely anticipated as a key enabling technology under Windows for a broad range of Ethernet accelerators called TCP Offload Engines (TOEs).
Without Chimney, Windows lacks native software support for TOEs emerging from a wide variety of established and startup companies including Alacritech, Adaptec and NetEffect.
Chimney was expected to be one of the key networking innovations in Longhorn which is due to ship sometime next year. Microsoft also planned to ship the software in an upgrade to Windows Server 2003 later this year.
The news comes as Microsoft is preparing to host several hundred developers for its annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Seattle where it will disclose new details about Longhorn to chip and systems developers.
Alacritech alleges it provided Microsoft details about its offload technology under a nondisclosure agreement in September 1998. In April 1999, Alacritech provided Microsoft details of its technology for possible integration into Windows, the company said.
"After Alacritech discovered that Microsoft Chimney is based on intellectual property that we developed, patented and own, we offered Microsoft a license," said Larry Boucher, president and CEO, Alacritech. "Microsoft rejected licensing terms that would be acceptable to us."
A Microsoft spokeswoman said the Chimney technology was developed independently by Microsoft.
Alacritech sued Microsoft in U.S. District Court on August 11, 2004, alleging that Microsoft's Chimney infringes Alacritech's U.S. Patent No. 6,427,171 and U.S. Patent No. 6,697,868, both entitled "Protocol Processing Stack for use with Intelligent Network Interface Device."