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

On Mar 14, 2007, at 11:10 AM, wrote:

Robin Harris: Your Website 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
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:
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.
This company sells EMC equipment and publishes its prices.
This company offers the Legato portion of EMC’s corporate price list as a PDF.
This link downloads a PDF of a Documentum price list, helpfully last updated on January 30, 2007.
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 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 – had over 100,000 visitors last month – does not take kindly to attempts to limit the free flow of information and First Amendment rights.


Robin Harris

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.