EMC Threatens StorageMojo

by Robin Harris on Tuesday, 20 March, 2007

The Empire strikes back
An EMC lawyer sent me the following email last week:

On Mar 14, 2007, at 11:10 AM, Clark_William@emc.com wrote:

Robin Harris: Your Website StorageMojo.com posts a price list of EMC Corporation. Having worked in the industry for over 20 years in both large and small companies, you certainly must know that EMC’s Price List is Confidential Information of EMC, and is protected as a trade secret. Without waiving any remedy that we may have, we hereby demand that you (1) remove the EMC price list from your Website, (2) cease and desist posting it there or anywhere else, (3) destroy all electronic and hard copies, and (4) confirm the above to us by return email. Your actions in this regard will be taken into consideration by us in deciding how we handle this matter.

William R. Clark
Sr. Intellectual Property Counsel
EMC Corporation
clark_william@emc.com
508 435-1000 x77225

Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you’re my only hope.
I immediately downloaded the price list to my faithful ‘droid Snort and . . . . Oops, wrong story.

I cobbled together this reply:

Dear Mr. Clark:

I was surprised to receive your email claiming that EMC’s price list is confidential and protected as a trade secret. Although I am not an attorney I (and everyone I have spoken to about this matter) believe that EMC has not protected its price list’s confidential nature. EMC has allowed its price lists to be published on the web by its employees and its resellers. Those published prices lists are freely available, at least one of them from EMC itself. Therefore, as I am confident you will agree, EMC has failed to protect its price list as a trade secret.

So that you may educate yourself and the rest of EMC’s legal group I offer the following URLs:

http://www.emc.com/sales/stateoffl/
Please note that this is posted on the EMC’s corporate website by EMC employees. It is listed on the first page of a Google search for “EMC price list”. EMC also maintains several prior price lists on this page.

http://www.berkcom.com/EMC/list-emc-storagesystems.php
This company sells EMC equipment and publishes its prices.

http://www.ecamerica.com/manufacturers/legato/
This company offers the Legato portion of EMC’s corporate price list as a PDF.

http://www.documents.dgs.ca.gov/pd/masters/imaging/documentum.pdf
This link downloads a PDF of a Documentum price list, helpfully last updated on January 30, 2007.

https://www.gsaadvantage.gov/
Enter EMC into the search box and many EMC federal contractor prices are displayed.

Now that you know the facts of the matter I expect an email from you confirming that you have examined the links and documents provided above and that you now understand that EMC’s price list is not a trade secret, despite what you were led to believe by the person who referred StorageMojo.com to you.

Also, you might want to consult with EMC’s public relations and analyst relations groups as to the advisability of continuing to press confidentiality claims against StorageMojo. The internet community – StorageMojo.com had over 100,000 visitors last month – does not take kindly to attempts to limit the free flow of information and First Amendment rights.

Sincerely,

Robin Harris
Editor, StorageMojo.com

The StorageMojo take
Lawyer Clark is in his early sixties, and I doubts he surfs the web all day looking for EMC trade secrets on blog sites. Somebody pointed him to StorageMojo.

Yet I have no problem with EMC defending its trade secrets. One reason I don’t sign NDAs with companies that aren’t clients is that I don’t want to be in the position of knowing and possibly revealing someone’s trade secrets. I prefer to look at publicly available information and to draw my own conclusions. It may keep me out of the loop on some cool stuff, but so be it. The bottom line is that EMC’s price list isn’t a trade secret if they publish it on their own website and it shows up on the first page of a Google search.

Let’s see how EMC responds. I hope we’ll see an admission of an honest mistake. Maybe even an apology.

Developing. . . .

Update: Lawrence Dignan over at ZDnet weighs in with a fresh perspective. I’m starting a new blog with ZDnet in addition to StorageMojo.

Comments, and in this case, support, welcome. More than ever, moderation is a virtue, except in the defense of liberty.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

sho Tuesday, 20 March, 2007 at 10:12 pm

Well written. Glad to see you standing up to this foolishness.

I am a customer of EMC, via VMWare. I am disappointed to see them embarrass themselves in this matter, and contribute to the debasement of the very principle of “trade secret” in a misguided attempt to preserve some illusory benefit of customers not being able to easily check their prices. What could they possibly be thinking?

EMC: drop these childish antics and apologise. And then give this matter, and your own actions, some serious thought. When your company sinks to the level of harrassing thoughtful, fair, independent websites like StorageMojo – in a foolish attempt to stop customers being able to find out your prices (!) – you know you’ve gone fundamentally wrong somewhere.

Quit with the silly lawyer games and try to win in the market the proper way – by having the best solutions at the best prices, and delivering value to your customers. This sort of charade just fritters away your goodwill, and the lawyering mindset will corrupt you from the inside.

jelloknee Wednesday, 21 March, 2007 at 3:41 am

I too have found the EMC Centera price list freely available on the web. You have to love a company that tries to hide its price list.

Don’t let the bstrds get you down Robin.

mike Wednesday, 21 March, 2007 at 4:54 am

Time is money – Sometimes defending the ideals of free and open markets takes both.

Damien Stevens Wednesday, 21 March, 2007 at 1:03 pm

Robin – Way to go! Don’t let the BigCo push you around.

I think you presented a fair and articulate response.

anon Wednesday, 21 March, 2007 at 4:45 pm

another reason to stay away from emc….

IO Guy Thursday, 22 March, 2007 at 1:32 am

Looks like it’s back to the Evil Machine Company of 10 years ago.

If you really want to get more lawsuit threats, set up a blog thread on EMC benchmarks.

Good stuff and will be looking for Tucci’s apology.

Steve Thursday, 22 March, 2007 at 5:04 am

EMC is well known for bully tactics – I ended up with their product after awarding a bid to a competitor – then EMC came in and threatened to pull their business from my company unless we bought their stuff. Then to add insult to injury their equipment crashed and lost data on me! Fun guys to deal with…

Ted Thursday, 22 March, 2007 at 8:47 am

Great response.

If one changes the last two letters in the ULR http://www.emc.com/sales/stateoffl/ to NY or CT, you will be taken to that state’s EMC pricing information site as well, where you can find more price lists.

Seems like Mr. Clark needs to spend a little more time investigating things before he opens his uninformed mouth.

I for one will go out of my way NOT to use EMC.

billh Thursday, 22 March, 2007 at 11:43 am

Welllll, there they go again! Seems to me that a company who has secret pricing has something to hide; excessively high or gouging prices, for example. If it is readily available on a legal web search, it is foolish to think it is protected as a trade secret or anything other form of cloaking. EMC should take a hike!

Vic Thursday, 22 March, 2007 at 12:38 pm

I believe looking at the law; EMC can state it is “copyrighted”. This is because you can copyright just about anything. But the law does state a few things that may allow you to keep it posted.
107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use
http://uscode.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/usc_sec_17_00000107—-000-.html
But, since you are not posting this for profit or gain. I would also say it is educational, training or research – FAIR USAGE

The fact that EMC post it on there own public site, speaks volumes about a company that “can help you be Compliant”, if in fact these are trade secrets.

Bottom line.
At worse case you could remove it from your site and just link right to EMC

Thanks for all the great work you do.

Robin Harris Friday, 23 March, 2007 at 9:14 am

All,

Thank you for your support. I’m reminded of a New Yorker cartoon where a lawyer is talking to a potential client: “You’ve got a good case. How much justice can you afford?” Now it looks like I won’t have to figure that out.

Vic, EMC’s lawyer didn’t claim copyright protection, because, I think, information per se can’t be copyrighted. So the fact that a company prices something at $10 isn’t copyright protected. I learned more about this stuff than I wanted to in the last week.

Robin

tiger Tuesday, 12 August, 2008 at 4:12 am

just read this, dated last month, on macintouch.com:

Jul. 8, 2008

Jonathan Nichols

Mozy? AWFUL. I had an account with them earlier this year for two computers, and cancelled it. They didn’t even offer me a refund which further infuriated me since the product never worked on one of the machines.

* They had me trying out beta builds and sending them logfiles. I was paying for the ‘privilege’ of helping them test software, and it was continually failing and not backing up data.

* Recovers failed.

* Their technical support was utterly worthless. After complaining about them and asking for the issue to be escalated (it never was) I received the following in an email. “Sorry for the trouble. Would you send me your MozyHome log file? It should be at C:\Program Files\MozyHome\Data\Mozy.log.” Same ticket number, same issue. They very obviously don’t bother to read the trouble tickets or even queue them properly. (I do not have a Windows machine!)

* I kept getting the same generic “uninstall & reinstall” song and dance. (Ticket #t9057519380132 in case anyone from Mozy reads this)

This issue went on for about 2 months before I gave up and cancelled.

Mozy & their support: F-

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