Microsoft facing new patent dispute

Microsoft is facing a patent lawsuit over its SQL Server database from software patent firm Timeline.

Microsoft is facing a patent lawsuit over its SQL Server database from software patent firm Timeline.

The case is the latest in a string of patent disputes brought against the software giant. In April, Microsoft was ordered to pay out $115m (£64m) to David Colvin, the founder of Z4 Technologies, in a patent dispute over anti-piracy software.

Timeline has terminated a limited licence agreement with Microsoft and has filed papers in the US courts asking that Microsoft be added as a defendant in an existing case against business intelligence software firm ProClarity.

In its complaint, Timeline alleges that Microsoft SQL Server infringes its patents by creating databases for online analytical processing (OLAP).

Timeline also claims the software giant breached the terms of a 1999 agreement that gave it a limited licence under Timeline's patents. The 1999 deal has already been the subject of legal action, with a 2002 appeal court ruling in favour of Timeline.

Charles Osenbaugh, chief executive of Timeline, said, “The cash component paid by Microsoft under the 1999 agreement was only a portion of the total consideration. Microsoft failed to honour the limited scope of the licence as decided by the Court of Appeals.

“It also failed to comply with other important provisions of the agreement. Because Microsoft has so clearly disregarded its obligations under the agreement, Timeline believes it is within its rights to terminate the licence and seek damages for infringement of its patents.”

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