Salesforce.com is using David Boies, who represented the Justice Department in its antitrust action against Microsoft, as counsel for its patent-infringement lawsuit against its rival. Salesforce's lawsuit is seen by many as a response to Microsoft's own intellectual property suit, filed in May, against the cloud-based software company. One analyst also sees the brewing legal battle as a fight for the future of the cloud, with Microsoft's Azure on one side and Salesforce's cloud-based productivity offerings on the other. Salesforce alleges that Microsoft violated five of its patents.
Salesforce.com has brought a key figure from Microsoft's
past into its patent-infringement lawsuit against the software giant, by
retaining David Boies as counsel. The lawsuit is seen by many as a response to
Microsoft's own intellectual-property suit filed in May against the cloud-based
Boies originally represented the Justice Department in its landmark
antitrust suit against Microsoft, arguing the government's case that the
software giant unlawfully maintained a monopoly in the PC arena. Although the
relationship between the two organizations has become far more nuanced, with Microsoft
executives even complaining to the Justice Department about Google's business
, chances are good that Boies' portrait is still used as a
dartboard in Redmond.
Legal counsel aside, the looming battle between Microsoft
and Salesforce suggests the cloud's increased importance for both the
enterprise and consumers.
"The stakes are getting bigger and bigger," Ray Wang, an
analyst with the Altimeter Group, said in a June 28 interview with eWEEK. "In
the battle for the cloud, the two leaders are going to be Salesforce and
Microsoft. Microsoft's Azure is the .NET side of the war, while Salesforce is
the Java side. So you're going to have drama." Azure is Microsoft's cloud-based
Nor will the battle end anytime soon, Wang added.
"This is going to continue; it's part of doing business here
in the Valley," he said. "Litigation is part of the process as things get
ultra-competitive. As the lines between enterprise and consumers blur, that
means a huge volume of users, and that's the key here in many ways."
Salesforce is asking for unspecified damages, as well as a
jury trial, in its suit against Microsoft, which was filed on June 24 in the
Federal District Court for the District of Delaware. The case number is 1:10-cv-00555
The five Salesforce patents at issue include, "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 Services." All were issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark
Office between 2004 and 2007.
"Microsoft's continuing acts of infringement have caused and
are causing irreparable harm to Salesforce.com, for which Salesforce.com has no
adequate remedy at law," read the filing. "The hardships that would be imposed
by an injunction are less than those faced by Salesforce.com should an
injunction not issue."
The Microsoft products that allegedly violate the patents,
Salesforce claims, include Windows Server AppFabric platform, the Windows Error
Reporting system for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, SharePoint, the
Windows Live Delegated Authentication system, and-perhaps most importantly,
given the broader cloud context-the .NET platform.
Microsoft indicated June 25 that it would continue to move forward
with its own lawsuit against Salesforce, which alleges infringement of nine of
"We remain confident in 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," Microsoft Deputy Chief Counsel Horacio
Gutierrez said in a statement.