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Court to Dell EMC: Nexsan Unity branding gets priority

Nexsan won a court victory over Dell EMC, right in the giant’s back yard.

A Massachusetts federal district court sided with Nexsan Inc. this week in its trademark dispute with Dell EMC over use of the Unity brand name. The ruling gives Nexsan Unity priority based on the timing of Nexsan’s patent request. The decision also dismisses Dell EMC’s claim of patent infringement.

It allows Nexsan to continue selling its Nexsan Unity multiprotocol storage array. Unless Dell EMC decides to appeal, the Hopkinton, Mass.-based division of Dell Technologies would need to come up with new branding for the EMC Unity midrange array it launched last year. Dell spokeswoman Lauren Lee said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

Nexsan CEO Ron Bienvenu hailed the court’s decision in a prepared statement. “Nexsan filed its Unity trademark application first, and so we are extremely pleased today that the court has given Nexsan priority.”

The dispute arose nearly a year ago, as EMC was finalizing its merger with Dell. Nexsan Unity was launched in April 2016, one week before EMC formally christened its rebranded VNX/VNXe hybrid arrays at EMC World 2016.

EMC claims it used the Unity branding in customer presentations as early as March 2015 and threatened Nexsan with legal action unless it abandoned the brand name. Nexsan countered by filing a complaint for declaratory judgment for priority to use the mark.

The decision hinged on the timing of the respective vendors’ trademark request with the U.S. Patent and Trade Office. In its court filing, Nexsan said it registered the trademark and serial number for Nexsan Unity on March 22, 2016 with the U.S. Patent and Trade Office. EMC filed its patent registration 38 days later, on April 29, 2016, and formally unveiled the EMC Unity product on May 2.

Nexsan is wholly owned by NXSN, a holding company owned by Spear Point Management Capital LLC and Gsubsidiary Inc. (formerly Imation Corp.). It claims more than 100 customer installations of Nexsan Unity since the product became generally available in September. The platform supports block, file and object storage with enterprise file sync and share.

Dell paid more than $60 billion to acquire EMC in 2016. The merger closed last September, creating a company with annual revenue of more than $74 billion.

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