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Salesforce Counter Sues Microsoft in Patent Skirmish

In a turnabout, Salesforce.com sued Microsoft on Thursday for alleged patent infringements.

The suit appears to be payment in kind for Microsoft. It was filed about one month after Microsoft sued Salesforce.com for allegedly violating nine of Microsoft's patents. In the Salesforce.com complaint filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, Salesforce.com alleged that five of its patents were willfully violated by Microsoft. Both companies compete directly in the customer relationship management space.

A story by TechFlash contains a link to the lawsuit. It also quotes Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff as saying earlier this week that "I guess you know you've made it in software when Microsoft is protesting your event. Or maybe when they've sued you. This is the greatest thing that's ever happened in my career." Benioff suggested that Microsoft representatives were handing out fliers prior to a launch event for Salesforce.com's new Chatter social networking app.

The following Microsoft technologies are alleged to infringe Salesforce.com patents: the Windows Server AppFabric platform; the Windows error reporting system in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2; Microsoft SharePoint; the Microsoft .NET platform (ASP.NET Web services); and the Windows Live delegated authentication system.

Salesforce.com is seeking triple damages for willful infringement by Microsoft. David Boies, a former U.S. Department of Justice official involved in prosecuting Microsoft for its Windows monopoly in the 1990s, is listed as the one of the counsels in Salesforce.com's lawsuit.

Microsoft is currently reviewing the lawsuit and not budging with its own patent infringement suit against Salesforce.com.

"We remain confident in our position and will continue to press ahead with the complaint," said Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel for intellectual property, according to a Bloomberg story credited with breaking the news.

According to the Salesforce.com complaint, Microsoft is infringing these Salesforce.com patented technologies: "Dynamic Multi-Level Cache Manager"; "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"; and "Apparatus and Methods for Provisioning Service."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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