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Microsoft sues Salesforce.com for alleged patent infringement

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

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"