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February 22, 2017

Facebook fails to throw out lawsuit that alleges data centre design theft

The court judgement is to dismiss any further lawsuit attempt made by Facebook on the breach of contract.

By Hannah Williams

Facebook has failed in its attempts to have a lawsuit alleging it stole data centre designs thrown out of court.

The lawsuit in question revolves around allegations put forward by BladeRoom and Bripco, two companies who work together to provide modular data centres.

The two companies claim that Facebook led “them to reveal their data centre designs and construction methods with promises of acquisition and partnership, only to then copy those designs and methods and pass them off as their own.”

The companies are requesting damages for both the misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract, together with claims that Facebook broke Unfair Competition Laws in California.

The case stretches back to 2015, when BladeRoom and Bripco claimed in the original filing of the lawsuit that Facebook had “announced to the world it had developed a revolutionary new method of constructing large, mission critical data centres.”

Read more: Facebook to build third European data centre in Denmark

“Facebook claimed that it developed an innovative, pre-fabricated and modular construction approach and, extolling its benefits, encouraged the entire data centre industry to shift from traditional practices to this new method. What Facebook did not disclose, however, was that this methodology and the detailed know-how supporting its use had in fact been stolen by Facebook.”

According to documents held by the court, Facebook contacted BladeRoom in 2012 and met with them several times to discuss the implementation of the company’s technology in its planned data centres.

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BladeRoom was also found to have had conversations with Emerson Electric, who built Facebooks Lulea, Sweden data centre.

The judgement states: “BRG (BladeRoom Group) alleges that after Emerson’s announcement, Facebook began revealing BRG’s confidential information through its initiative called the ‘Open Compute Project,’ the goal of which is to give the public ‘full access to the specifications’ used by Facebook in its data centres in order to ‘spark a collaborative dialogue’ about how to improve its approach to data centres.”

It was also stated that in 2014, a Facebook representative appeared at an Open Compute forum, where BladeRoom’s technology was referred to as the “rapid deployment data centre” method created by Facebook.

 

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