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Facebook in the dock: Web giant faces trial for allegedly ripping off data center blueprints

Zuck's Open Compute Project stole our designs, claims Brit biz

Zuckerberg
Under pressure ... Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook is set to be dragged before a jury next year to face allegations that its Open Compute Project is built on stolen server and rack technology.

In a California district court, Judge Edward Davila today laid out a timeline for the legal battle between the social network and UK data center specialist BladeRoom. The latter claims the Mark Zuckerberg-run web giant ripped off its blueprints for server warehouses.

Under the terms laid out [PDF] by Judge Davila, the two sides will be able to request documents and testimony through a discovery deadline of July 28. In August, they will again meet for a pretrial conference, and in March of 2018 the process of selecting a jury for the trial will begin.

The trial itself will start on April 3 and jury deliberations are scheduled to wrap up by May 11, 2018.

Facebook has been accused by BladeRoom of taking its modular data center layouts and designs for things like the placement and construction of server racks for a period going back as far as 2011, and repackaging them under the Open Compute banner so it could use and distribute the blueprints free of charge.

Facebook has long pitched the Open Compute Project as a vault of open-source data center and server designs shared with the rest of the IT industry, based on lessons learned by Facebook's own engineers when building its in-house bit barns. The project operates as a non-profit organization separate from the social network, and accepts designs from other giants, such as Google.

With roughly a year to go before a jury trial begins, there would supposedly be plenty of time for the two sides to strike a settlement deal. That may not be in the cards, however, given the complaint was filed by BladeRoom in 2015 and after two years of discussions a compromise has yet to be reached. ®

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