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Microsoft and Salesforce.com Spar Over Patents

Last month, Microsoft finally stopped just ratting its patent saber and actually wielded it, filing a patent-infringement lawsuit against mouthy upstart competitor Salesforce.com.

So, what has Salesforce.com done in return? Settled? Cowered? Prepared a defense? Well, maybe it's done the latter of those three, but it definitely hasn't done the first two. The "no software" cloud company fired a patent suit right back at Microsoft late last week, setting up untold riches for software patent lawyers everywhere.

It's interesting that Microsoft tipped its hand on patents by actually filing suit in the first place. Generally, Microsoft's tack has been to use patents as a big stick and then speak not so softly about patent-immunity shakedowns...sorry, agreements such as the one it signed with Novell a few years ago. Woe is the vendor that doesn't sign a patent agreement with Microsoft, for a lawsuit will come thundering down upon it…someday...eventually…maybe.

With Salesforce.com, though -- a major competitor to Microsoft in the CRM space -- Redmond actually drew the sword, only to find that its smaller counterpart was also armed and ready to do battle. All of this will likely end in some undisclosed settlement and a lot more hot air (and legal fees) than anything else, but maybe now Microsoft' s patent-baiting tactics will seem like less of a threat, particularly to the open-source community, the main target of Microsoft' s infringement claims.

Here at RCPU, we're just hoping for some good quotes and hilarious revelations to come out of these suits. That's probably the best we can hope for in this situation. Marc Benioff (Salesforce.com's brazen CEO), don't let us down!

Who would you like to see win a legal battle between Microsoft and Salesforce.com and why? Send your answers to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on June 28, 2010 at 11:56 AM


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