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Novell settles with former programmers

The software maker reaches an out-of-court settlement with a rogue crew who allegedly stole trade secrets.

Networking software maker Novell has reached a legal settlement with a rogue crew of former programmers who allegedly stole trade secrets from the firm.

As late as this past April, the Timpanogas Research Group was continuing to fight a suit filed by Novell in the spring of 1997, alleging breach of contract, misappropriation trade secrets, and infringing on company trademarks.

The settlement includes a dismissal of claims filed between Novell and Timpanogas, a permanent injunction against disclosure of Novell trade secrets, and an undisclosed payment to Novell by the Timpanogas employees.

The legal tete-a-tete revolved around Novell's clustering software development efforts, code-named Wolf Mountain. The former employees--Jeff Merkey, Darren Major, and Larry Angus--were lead developers of the ambitious Novell software project, before leaving abruptly to start their own clustering software venture.

The former employees appeared particularly contrite in a statement announcing a resolution of the matter: "I regret what happened here," said Merkey in a prepared statement. "I mistakenly believed that, because we had developed certain technology while employed by Novell, we could take elements of that technology with us when we left."

David Bradford, Novell's general counsel, added in the statement: "We have resolved this dispute to Novell's satisfaction."