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Akamai sues Speedera for trade secret theft

Two leading content delivery network (CDN) players this week began trading jabs in a heated legal battle in which both companies have filed suit against the other.

Akamai Technologies has filed suit in California Superior Court seeking an injunction against competitor Speedera Networks. Akamai alleges that Speedera co-founder and chief technical officer Richard Day stole Akamai trade secrets from a protected database maintained by Keynote Systems. Akamai is a customer of Keynote, which provides Web site measurement and testing services.

The data maintained by Keynote includes Akamai customer prospects and other related marketing and technical information, according to Akamai spokesman Jeff Young.

"That is data we would not want available to our competition," he said.

Akamai alleges that Speedera on at least 33 different occasions since February this year broke into a secure computer database and obtained private Akamai data.

The suit states that Day, using a DSL line from his home, broke into a log-in-protected area of Keynote Systems. The suit continues to state that Day "illegally accessed, stole, and used Akamai's confidential information and data to enable Speedera to compete unfairly and wrongfully against Akamai."

Speedera, also a Keynote customer, counters that data available from Keynote is not proprietary or confidential, said Gordon Smith, vice-president of marketing at Speedera.

"We think [Akamai's] complaint is totally unfounded," Smith said. "The terms of the licensing agreement between Keynote and its customers make clear the data belongs to Keynote, and the customer relinquishes any claim to that data being proprietary."

"So whatever information they are alleging we've obtained is certainly not proprietary or privileged," he said.

A hearing on Akamai's application for a temporary restraining order is scheduled to take place this week in San Francisco Superior Court.

Speedera officials confirmed that the FBI searched Speedera's offices on Monday, removing documents and computer files related to a sealed affidavit filed by Akamai.

Speedera responded to Akamai's claims on Tuesday (25 June 2002) with a lawsuit of its own, alleging unfair competition, false advertising, trade libel, and intentional interference with business advantage.

The claim, filed in the US District Court in San Jose, California, seeks unspecified actual and punitive damages as well as an injunction against Akamai for making false statements about Speedera's financial condition and false statements about the performance of Speedera's content delivery services, according to Speedera officials.

According to Smith, Akamai has misrepresented Speedera's financial situation, its customer base, how Speedera's technology works, and the performance of its service. Specifically, Smith referred to a competitive analysis document created Akamai.

"We have seen these misrepresentations in documents they have distributed not only internally but also outside the company," Smith said. "That competitive analysis document makes an astounding number of totally false assertions."

In addition to this week's legal haranguing, Akamai is also embroiled in patent infringement litigation against Speedera and another competitor, Cable and Wireless. Akamai filed its patent infringement lawsuit against Speedera in February.

"This is a multi-front war," Speedera's Smith said.

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