Akamai-Speedera Feud Escalates
The legal and marketing battle that flared to a fury this week between content delivery network providers Akamai Technologies Inc. and Speedera Networks Inc. is expected to continue to escalate into next week as Speedera plans to announce new contract wins with former Akamai customers.
Though the two companies were already embroiled in a legal battle over patent concerns filed in February by Cambridge, Mass.-based Akamai against Santa Clara, Calif.-based Speedera, the issue came to a head when federal officials raided Speederas corporate offices to look for evidence that Speedera stole trade secrets from Akamai.
Speederas vice president of marketing, Gordon Smith, told eWEEK that the FBI came equipped with a search warrant based on an affidavit filed by Akamai. The affidavit was sealed, and Smith says he does not know what was in it.
However, "no charges were leveled against anyone," he said.
Jeff Young, a spokesman for Akamai, said Akamais complaint in a civil suit filed this week charges that Speederas CTO and cofounder Richard Day broke into a protected database maintained by Keynote Systems Inc., a San Mateo, Calif.-based Web site performance testing agency that both companies use, and stole Akamai trade secrets.
Smith would not comment on whether or not Day acquired proprietary or confidential Akamai information from the Keynote database. Instead, Smith said that any information in the Keynote database belongs to Keynote and not Akamai.
"I have no comment on that whatsoever," Smith said, referring to the allegations against Day. "Because if the fundamental point is untrue which is there was no confidential data to begin with [because any data belonged to Keynote] then everything that follows has no foundation."
The week heated up as Akamai sued for an injunction against Speedera, trying to enjoin the company from using any data it is alleged to have taken from the database. The two sides went to court, and at a hearing in California Superior Court in San Francisco, a judge issued an order for Speedera to show why an injunction should not be entered against the company. The court granted Akamais request for expedited discovery and set a hearing for July 24 on the matter.
"We are very pleased at that," Young said.
However, Smith said it is all part of the same game plan, and it is all based on Speederas success in the market versus Akamais. Indeed, Speedera fought back with a lawsuit of its own, filing suit this week in the U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., seeking a preliminary injunction against Akamai to stop its anti-competitive activities including false advertising, trade libel and intentional interference with prospective business advantage -- and announced that Akamais request for an injunction had been rejected by the San Francisco judge the day before. Speedera also this week released press announcements that it was 90 days shy of profitability and that the company had been awarded patents for its core CDN technology.
Young called Speederas moves "a not so subtle attempt to draw attention away from the real situation, and that is a criminal investigation."
Added Young: "This is not about who is going to become profitable first or who has what patents, this is about a criminal investigation. We were made aware that their cofounder on 33 occasions broke into a secure computer database and obtained files on prospective deals we were working, who we were working with, what data, what services we were offering and what trials we were working on" with prospective customers.
Smith said Akamai has taken a beating and has lost many customers to Speedera and now "has enlisted the FBI" because Akamai "is trying to do in court what it cannot do in the market."
The saga continues next week as Speedera is expected to announce a major win from Akamai, a large public radio station, apparently moving from using Akamais CDN service to Speederas.
"Customers are leaving Akamai and coming to Speedera because of three things: better price/performance, better management and better customer service," Smith said.
He said customers such as Macromedia Corp. and Playboy have left Akamai for Speedera.