Cognos Inc. last week said it will pay $24 million to business intelligence software competitor Business Objects S.A. to settle a 2-year-old patent suit.
Business Objects had charged that Cognos Impromptu product for database reporting infringed on its U.S. patent No. 5,555,403, titled "Relational Database Access System Using Semantically Dynamic Objects."
At issue were Cognos use of plain- English terms in columns and fields—the so-called semantic layer—and in how Impromptu created data joins between files in databases.
Cognos CEO Ron Zambonini dismissed the charges as "completely invalid" and said his Ottawa-based companys products supported such technology before Business Objects filed the patent in 1996.
The settlement calls for Cognos to pay Business Objects, of San Jose, Calif., a lump sum of $10 million by June 10, then quarterly installments of $1.75 million over the next two years, effectively licensing the patented technology.
The companies also agreed to a five-year moratorium on patent litigation against each other.
"To put this behind them and keep marching forward is the best thing that could happen to both companies," said Cognos customer Marsha Williams, vice president of IT at COBE Cardiovascular Inc.
"We dont have a lot of concerns about the financial impact. It doesnt seem like it will make a huge difference to the profits of Cognos as a company," said Williams, in Arvada, Colo.
This is the second time that Business Objects has reached a settlement with a competitor over this patent. In September 1999, Brio Software Inc. paid Business Objects $10 million to settle a similar patent infringement claim.
Business Objects has another patent infringement lawsuit, for the same patent, pending against competitor MicroStrategy Inc.