Salesforce retaliates; sues Microsoft for alleged patent infringement

Summary:It took just a little over a month for Salesforce.com to answer Microsoft's charge of patent infringement. On June 24, Salesforce sued Microsoft, making its own claims of patent infringement.

It took just a little over a month for Salesforce.com to answer Microsoft's charge of patent infringement. On June 24, Salesforce sued Microsoft, making its own claims of patent infringement.

According to Bloomberg, the Salesforce complaint cites Microsoft's .Net platform and SharePoint, which "perform in a way that violates the Salesforce.com patents, and the 'risk of infringement was either known or so obvious that it should have been known by Microsoft.'"

Salesforce is bringing in the big guns for this one. The company has hired long-time Microsoft nemesis David Boies, founder of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP -- who represented the U.S. Department of Justice in its antitrust case against Microsoft last decade -- to make its case.

Microsoft sued Salesforce for alleged patent infringement on May 18. The patents on which Microsoft is claiming Salesforce is infringing -- and for which Microsoft is seeking treble damages and fees -- include:

  • “method and system for mapping between logical data and physical data”
  • “system and method for providing and displaying a web page having an embedded menu”
  • “method and system for stacking toolbars in a computer display”
  • “automated web site creation using template driven generation of active server page applications”
  • “aggregation of system settings into objects”
  • “timing and velocity control for displaying graphical information”
  • “method and system for identifying and obtaining computer software from a remote computer”
  • “system and method for controlling access to data entities in a computer network”

It was pretty obvious Salesforce wasn't going to roll over, after Microsoft lodged its case, with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff calling Microsoft a "patent troll" and "alley thug."

I've asked Microsoft for comment on the Salesforce case. No word back yet. Also no sight of the Salesforce complaint so far... More to come.

Update: Here's Microsoft's official statement, attributable to Horacio Gutierrez, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Intellectual Property & Licensing:

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

Update 2: Here's the full Salesforce complaint (via TechCrunch).  Salesforce cites the following patents as among those upon which Microsoft is infringing:

  • "dynamic multi-level cache"
  • "method and system for handling errors in a distributed computer system"
  • "work sharing and communicating in a web site system"
  • "Java object cache server for databases"
  • "apparatus and methods for provisioning services"

Salesforce is alleging that several Microsoft products and technologies infringe on these patents, including Windows Server App Fabric, Windows Error Reporting (as incorporated in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2), SharePoint and the .Net platform (specifically ASP.Net Web services).

Topics: Enterprise Software, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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