Microsoft sues Salesforce.com for alleged patent infringement

Microsoft sues Salesforce.com for alleged patent infringement

Summary: Details are scarce so far, but Microsoft has filed a lawsuit against Salesforce.com for allegedly infringing nine unspecified Microsoft CRM-related patents.

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Details are scarce so far, but Microsoft has filed a lawsuit against Salesforce.com for allegedly infringing nine unspecified Microsoft CRM-related patents.

Microsoft posted a statement on its Web site acknowledging it had taken legal action on May 18. Here's an excerpt from that statement from Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing:

“Microsoft has filed an action today, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, against Salesforce.com for infringement of nine Microsoft patents by their CRM product."

I've asked Microsoft and Salesforce both for additional information. Salesforce officials said they have no comment. Microsoft is not commenting beyond the statement it released on its Web site.

Microsoft and Salesforce are rivals in the cloud-based CRM space. The two also compete in the CRM developer space, with Microsoft pushing its xRM platform as a rival to Salesforce's Force.com platform.

Earlier this month, Salesforce hired a former Microsoft Vice President, Maria Martinez. At Salesforce, Martinez is Executive Vice President of Customers for Life. At Microsoft, she was Corporate Vice President of Worldwide Services.

Update: I had a chance to look at the complaint. Here are descriptions of the patents on which Microsoft is claiming Salesforce is infringing. Microsoft is seeking treble damages and fees.

  • "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"

Topics: Enterprise Software, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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89 comments
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  • Ah software patents

    We see their real value is not to encourage innovation, but limit competition.<br><br>I guess salesforce isn't yet the size to be in the cross patent protection racket.
    Richard Flude
    • patent protection racket

      One interesting note on these patents is none of them seems to be open source/Linux related. So this suit isn't like TomTom. And the issue isn't MS trying to rattle Linux cages... MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • I agree, these actions aren't oss / Linux related...

        they're an attack on all software. The patents mentioned are so broad they affect many software projects.<br><br>It isn't just Linux developers that should be rattled this time. All developers without extensive defensive patent portfolios or millions for legal representation have effectively put on notice by MS's actions.
        Richard Flude
      • Well, not directly related to open source, but could apply to open source.

        Maybe this is just a politically safe place to test their nuclear weapons that they want to apply to open source later. That is about all I can see here.
        DonnieBoy
      • That's all you ever see DonnieBoy, but the question you need to answer

        Is why it's OK for FOSS (or anyone else) to sue MS for patent infringement, but not OK for MS to do the same?
        John Zern
      • And the question John should answer...

        is why it's ok for Microsoft to sue other companies for patent infringement but not ok for other companies to sue Microsoft for the same types of patent infringement. Considering you didn't say that and Donnie didn't say what you asserted, I guess we should read into your post as much as you read into his.
        jasonp@...
      • RE: Microsoft sues Salesforce.com for alleged patent infringement

        @Mary Jo Foley I agree with Richard Flude. Overly broad and BTW: who made them God of all things Internet/Web Related?
        LilBambi_z
      • This site sucks anymore

        Not the usuall banter, but the entire theme of it is too cutesy and not practical at all. You can't reply past the 3rd level??? I want to respond to jasonp@..., who took the time to repond to me, yet to do so I have to respond to the sencond poster.

        It leaves very [b]very[/b] little room to get a discussion going.
        John Zern
      • RE: Microsoft sues Salesforce.com for alleged patent infringement

        @John Zern, cry me a river. The crocodile tears are flowing down my face with [i]sadness[/i].

        lol... :D
        ubiquitous one
      • RE: Microsoft sues Salesforce.com for alleged patent infringement

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        RahinBen
      • RE: Microsoft sues Salesforce.com for alleged patent infringement

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        cstrathmore
      • RE: Microsoft sues Salesforce.com for alleged patent infringement

        @Mary Jo Foley

        And why not..... Open Source and Open Standards fit right together. Microsoft is proving they are smarter than Apple ever has been!
        cstrathmore
      • RE: Microsoft sues Salesforce.com for alleged patent infringement

        I think Sage should be next as they copied Microsoft CRM big time as well.
        Linux Love
    • RE: Microsoft sues Salesforce.com for alleged patent infringement

      @Richard Flude Try us free for a year: I do not think so ipad bag blog of best sutudeg community the modern education news and the other.
      Arabalar
    • RE: Microsoft sues Salesforce.com for alleged patent infringement

      @Richard Flude but bing is not free market competition. it lost the search war (no matter what they choose to call it now). it loses obscene amounts of money and will continue to do so (according to ballmer) until the cash cows come home. yahoo, alta vista, all of them lost the search war. the only difference between them and ms is that they had to run a business with bottom lines (that hole inconvenient profit and loss thingy). ms doesn't. no, i'd like to see someone compete that isn't buying their way in. that's free market.
      Arabalar
  • RE: Microsoft sues Salesforce.com for alleged patent infringement

    I think Sage should be next as they copied Microsoft CRM big time as well.
    sydme
    • Sage products predate MS CRM.

      Kinda hard to sue somebody for infringing on patents that didn't exist at the time.
      jasonp@...
      • I guess that answers that then...

        @jasonp@... You can't patent something that someone else has already created and published. That would be somewhat silly. In those cases I'm sure MS can't even claim to be patent owner. Surely???
        johnmckay
  • RE: Microsoft sues Salesforce.com for alleged patent infringement

    It seems like some of these patents could also apply to Google Docs, especially the ones dealing with menus.
    RyGuy12
    • RE: Microsoft sues Salesforce.com for alleged patent infringement

      At least one of these patents would apply to: eBay, Yahoo Stores, Froogle, Wordpress, any company with a twitter or facebook page, Joombla, etc..
      Another one would apply to any program that goes to a site to check for updates (that is, practically all of them)
      Another one would apply to any site that has a graphical "toolbar" orientated vertically.
      Another one would apply to any site that has a menu that reacts to a mouseover event.
      flhu