Stardent Backs Japanese in Computer Suit

From United Press International

Stardent Computer Inc. sided with Kubota Corp. against two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who said they were illegally forced to give up their computer technology to the Japanese company and undertake the merger that created Stardent.

Stardent's directors "terminated" its two co-chairmen, Allen Michels and Matthew Sanders III, as employees and officers of the company and said a committee of outside directors had found their claims "to be without merit," the company said in a press release. The dismissals were effective immediately, Stardent added.

Moreover, Stardent said its board Thursday approved "an extended partnership" that could result in Kubota committing more than $50 million in additional financing for the supercomputer maker in the next two years. The partnership includes more technology agreements between the two companies.

Such a sale of technology goes to the heart of a lawsuit brought against Kubota earlier this month by Michels and Sanders, who founded the former Ardent Computer Corp.

Their suit contends that after Kubota bought a 22% stake in their company, the Japanese forced a merger with the former Stellar Computer to form Stardent, and the Japanese began transferring the technology to their wholly owned subsidiary.

Stardent said its new partnership with Kubota would include distribution and manufacturing.

The board's approval of a letter of intent with Kubota "paves the way for the recently formed United States Kubota subsidiary, Kubota Pacific Computer, to begin operations in Santa Clara, Calif.," the company said. Kubota Pacific will have "complete manufacturing responsibility for Stardent's products," the company said.

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