Double Victories in Defense of Juniper Networks
In January 2014, an Irell team, including Jonathan Kagan and Harry Mittleman, secured dual wins in two separate matters for Juniper Networks:
Palo Alto Networks v. Juniper:
Irell & Manella LLP successfully defended long-time client Juniper Networks, convincing Santa Clara Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Palo Alto Networks ("PAN"), a technology company founded by former Juniper employees. PAN filed the state court suit in reaction to a victory Irell obtained for Juniper in a pending patent litigation against PAN in Delaware federal court. In the Delaware case, Irell convinced the court to strike PAN’s invalidity defense by invoking the federal common law doctrine of assignor estoppel, which prevents an inventor who assigns a patent to a buyer from later challenging its validity.
After the firm's success in Delaware, PAN and one of its founders, Nir Zuk, initiated this state action against Juniper in Santa Clara Superior Court, alleging violations of California’s Business & Professions Code sections 16600 (dealing with covenants not to compete) and 17200 (the unfair competition law), and breach of an alleged implied covenant not to assert assignor estoppel.
Irell filed an anti-SLAPP motion in response to PAN’s suit, contending that the lawsuit improperly chilled Juniper’s First Amendment petitioning activities, because the essence of PAN’s lawsuit was that it was unlawful under California law for Juniper to prevail on a federal defense in federal court. On January 15, the trial court agreed and, in a detailed order, sustained all of Irell's arguments and granted the firm's anti-SLAPP motion. The effect is that PAN’s state court lawsuit is dismissed with prejudice and PAN is liable for paying Juniper’s fees and costs in bringing the anti-SLAPP motion.
Alcatel-Lucent v. Juniper:
Irell & Manella persuaded Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Kenneth Barnum to vacate a jury verdict against Juniper Networks, saving the firm's client from paying a multimillion dollar award.
After losing at trial, Juniper Networks hired Irell to attempt to undo a jury award of more than $10 million through post-trial motions and an appeal. Alcatel-Lucent USA (“ALU”) sued Juniper for intentional interference with contractual relations and violating California’s unfair competition law, after Juniper purchased the assets of third-party Brilliant Technologies but did not assume Brilliant’s contract to supply ALU with telecommunications products.
Despite the jury’s finding that Juniper had committed an intentional business tort, Irell persuaded the court that Juniper had not violated California’s unfair competition law because Juniper’s actions were neither unlawful nor unfair. Thereafter, the Irell team convinced the trial court that the jury’s verdict was erroneous and needed to be set aside.
On January 16, the trial court granted Juniper’s separate motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and for a new trial. Because of Irell’s efforts, Juniper does not have to pay ALU a cent.