Salesforce countersues Microsoft in patent spat

Summary:The two companies are tussling over ownership of cloud and web technologies, with each now involved in a patent infringement lawsuit against the other

Salesforce.com has filed suit against Microsoft for allegedly infringing on five of its patents, only weeks after Microsoft itself launched a similar suit against the provider of cloud-based enterprise applications.

In the suit, filed in US District Court in Delaware on Thursday, Salesforce said that Microsoft's SharePoint business collaboration technology uses its technology for "apparatus and methods for provisioning services" (Patent No. 7,024,454). It also said that Microsoft's .Net developer framework relies on a Salesforce "java object cache server for databases" technology (Patent No. 7,209,929).

"Microsoft's continuing acts of infringement have caused and are causing irreparable harm to Salesforce.com, for which Salesforce.com has no adequate remedy at law," the cloud software company said in its filing.

Other infringing Microsoft technologies, according to Salesforce, are Windows Server AppFabric platform, the Windows Error Reporting system for both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, and the Windows Live Delegated Authentication system. The patents involved in those cases deal with a "dynamic multi-level cache manager", a "method and system for handling errors in a distributed computer system", and technology for "work sharing and communicating in a website system".

Salesforce is seeking an unspecified amount of damages, and it has asked the court to triple those damages in recognition of Microsoft's alleged wilful infringement of its patents. It is also seeking an injunction from the court to prevent from Microsoft using the disputed technologies.

Microsoft itself began a patent infringement suit against Salesforce last month. The software giant intends to continue with that legal action, Microsoft's deputy general counsel for intellectual property and licensing, Horacio Gutierrez, said in a statement on Friday.

"We are reviewing Salesforce.com's filing, which we have just received," said Gutierrez. "We remain confident about our position and will continue to press ahead with the complaint we initiated in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington."

The Microsoft complaint against Salesforce is over patents that cover a number of user interface and back-end features, including a "system and method for providing and displaying a web page having an embedded menu" and a "method and system for stacking toolbars in a computer display".

Topics: Legal, Piracy

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Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com, writing about all manner of security and open-source issues.Tom had various jobs after leaving university, including working for a company that hired out computers as props for films and television, and a role turning the entire back catalogue of a publisher into e-books.Tom eventually found tha... Full Bio

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