Sun Reviewing Google ‘Blackbox’ Patent

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The news that Google (GOOG) has received a patent on a modular data center in a shipping container raised an immediate question: what might this mean for Sun Microsystems’ Project Blackbox? The Blackbox, an energy-efficient data center housed in a 20-foot shipping container, was announced in Oct. 2005 and installed its first unit at Stanford in July. Executives of Sun have said the Blackbox resulted from a 2005 conversation between two of its technologists. Google applied for the patent in 2003.

Sun (JAVA) isn’t saying much just yet. “We are aware of a modular data center patent being issued to Google,” a Sun spokeswoman told The Register. “Our legal team is reviewing the patent, as this is a broad concept. Until that review is complete, we don’t have further comment.”

The Register speculated that Google may be an unlikely candidate to wield its patents to try and crush competitors, given its recent calls for patent reform, “As the company complains about the injustice of the patent system, it’s hard to imagine it going on the offensive with its new patent. Of course, stranger things have happened.”

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

One Comment

  1. PatentFizz commenters have done a good job of comparing the claims of the Google datacenter patent (US Patent No. 7278273) to the details of Sun's Project Blackbox. See the comments section at the bottom of the FizzDisplay for the patent to follow the discussion (available here: http://www.patentfizz.com/fizzdisplay.php?patno=7278273