Microsoft sues Salesforce for being unoriginal

Software giant Microsoft has sued Salesforce.com claiming that it has infringed nine of its patents.

The lawsuit targets CRM software at the heart of Salesforce.com’s business. Redmond wants a court order that would prevent the outfit from providing features that Microsoft claims it dreamed up.

Salesforce.com flogs subscriptions to Internet business software that runs marketing campaigns and tracks sales leads. Its number one competition is Microsoft’s Dynamics range.

Redmond says that Salesforce.com “has profited through infringement of the Microsoft patents-in-suit.”

Salesforce.com had more than $1.3 billion in sales last year.

Horacio Gutierrez, the Redmond, Washington-based company’s deputy general counsel for intellectual property and licensing told Bloomberg that some of the patents cover how the software operates, such as a way to determine which version a person is using to see if it needs to be updated, or features that make the software easier to use, including tool bars and navigation of menus.

“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,” he said.

The case has been a long time coming. In a regulatory filing last year, Salesforce said it was contacted last year by a “large technology company” alleging patent infringement and said it was in discussions with the company.

However, it said that it did not expect this to have an adverse effect on the company’s profits.

Salesforce.com Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff, should have expected Microsoft to do something.

Last year he said he wanted customers and software developers to write online applications on his system, dubbed Force.com, much the way personal computer programs run on Microsoft’s Windows. That’s fighting talk.