RealTime IT News

Court Whittles Down MicroStrategy-Business Objects Suit

A Virginia court this past week threw out a motion for a jury trial on MicroStrategy's allegations that Business Objects tortiously interfered with employment agreements between MicroStrategy and its former employees in a legal duel between two business intelligence software leaders.

Business intelligence software is a highly lucrative niche of software applications that all types of companies purchase to help gauge data about customers, employees and products to improve their business performance. IDC expects the market for such software to top $4.5 billion by 2007.

The development is a coup of sorts for France-based Business Objects, who is in the middle of digesting an $820 million purchase of Crystal Decisions to boost its reporting capabilities. However, McLean, Va.-based MicroStrategy has also sued Business Objects for misappropriation of trade secrets and patent infringement.

MicroStrategy expects a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on the merit of the trade secrets claim, for which it is seeking fiscal compensation, soon. However, the court has already ruled that MicroStrategy is not entitled to monetary damages for its misappropriation of trade secrets claim.

Meanwhile, MicroStrategy said its claim against Business Objects for infringement of a patent for automatic output of service-related OLAP reports to different output services (U.S. Patent No. 6,260,050) is expected to go to jury trial in April 2004.

Proving patent infringement is no sure bet, as Business Objects discovered when it unsuccessfully sued MicroStrategy in a Californian court to the tune of $100 million for allegedly infringing on a patent for relational database access systems that use "semantically dynamic objects" (U.S. Patent No. 5,555,403).

The court said that Business Objects' claims could not be supported. Business Objects filed a motion with the trial court to vacate the summary judgment ruling but was denied. The company has filed anotice of appeal.