Microsoft is suing Salesforce.com for patent infringement relating to customer relationship management (CRM) software - the heart of Salesforce's business.
Salesforce.com competes against Microsoft's Dynamics programs in providing marketing and sales management software on a subscription basis.
The nine patents in dispute cover usability features such as toolbars and navigation. Some are very general in scope: one, for example, is titled: 'System and method for providing and displaying a web page having an embedded menu'. Most date back to the 1990s.
"Microsoft has filed an action today, in the U. District Court for the Western District of Washington, against Salesforce.com for infringement of nine Microsoft patents by their CRM product," says Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing.
"Microsoft has been a leader and innovator in the software industry for decades and continues to invest billions of dollars each year in bringing great software products and services to market. We have a responsibility to our customers, partners, and shareholders to safeguard that investment, and therefore cannot stand idly by when others infringe our IP rights."
Microsoft is calling for an order to precent Salesforce.com from selling products containing the disputed features.
Microsoft is rather more used to being on the other end of patent suits. Last week, for example, it lost the latest round against 14i in a dispute over XML technology.