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February 2, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

Timpanogas Research Group Inc, the Windows NT fault-tolerant clustering software start-up formed by three ex-Novell employees, has been ordered to stop developing commercial software of any kind for the next nine months. The ruling is a victory for Novell Inc which requested the preliminary injunction against the company. The court said the ruling would give Novell a one and half year market advantage over TRG in the area of clustering. Novell accused the company’s founders Jeff Merkey, Darren Major and Larry Angus of stealing trade secrets form Novell aiming to set up in competition to Novell as well as partnering rival network operating system rival Microsoft Corp (CI No 3,149). The three men left Novell to establish Wolf Mountain Group, which after Novell first went to court had to be renamed Timpanogas Research Group, because Wolf Mountain was the name of the Novell NetWare clustering project that they had worked on. The trade secrets involved in the suit relate to clustering technology developed and used by Novell. The Judge said that just days after Merkey left Novell, he met with Microsoft representatives at the company’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington to discuss releasing a product identical to one Merkey had been working on at Novell. Judge Anthony Scofield highlighted the point that Merkey even bragged to the press and to other Novell employees that he had under-documented the technology so that Novell would not know what he had. The men were last year placed under a temporary restraining order dictating that they could not use the technology, which they called unfair. Timpanogas announced its intention to counter sue Novell, charging the company with unfair competition, defamation, abuse of process, wrongly seizing private property and intentionally inflicting emotional distress. But the Judge said the issue was not whether Timpanogas Research Group should be allowed to compete with Novell, but that the men took a former Novell project and continued to work on it. According to Merkey, ceo at TRG, the ruling institutes intellectual slavery as the injunction was not based on Novell’s intellectual property claims, which were denied, but on the fact that TRG had negative knowledge (work experience at Novell) and that this experience gave TRG an unfair advantage over Novell in the market. TRG says it may appeal for a stay and appeal the ruling. In the meantime, it said it would engage in advance research in the public domain. It is also lucky enough at least to have another option while it awaits its appeal. Last year the Orem Utah-based start-up found gold and platinum deposits that it said could be worth many millions of dollars of gold and platinum deposits (CI No 3,202).

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