Microsoft has launched a patent infringement claim against software-as-a-service provider Salesforce.com.
The suit alleges that the customer relationship management (CRM) provider has infringed upon nine of Microsoft’s patents, including those describing methods of “identifying and obtaining computer software from a remote computer” and “mapping between logical data and physical data”.
“The Defendant’s infringement of the Microsoft patents is willful and deliberate, entitling Microsoft to enhanced damages and reasonable attorney fees and costs,” the suit alleges.
Salesforce.com has yet to issue a statement in response to the claim.
Whatever the validity of the lawsuit, it is likely to be perceived as an aggressive volley from Microsoft towards a competitor in some key battlefields.
Salesforce.com’s CRM product has proved popular among the mid-sized organisations and departmental deployments that Microsoft targets with its Dynamics CRM product.
Furthermore, the companies are shaping up to become two of the frontrunners in the as-yet immature but much vaunted “platform as a service” market, in which cloud computing providers allow developers to build and run custom applications on their data centre resources.
Last month, Salesforce.com announced that its PaaS offering, Force.com, will support the Java programming language, thanks to a partnership with VMware. Forrester analyst Dr. Stefan Reid described the partnership as “an attack” on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, which is based on the software giant’s .NET development framework.