Microsoft Sues Salesforce.com in Battle for CRM

Microsoft filed a suit alleging patent infringement by Salesforce.com's leading CRM software.

Microsoft has been on the wrong side of a couple patent issues recently--the case with i4i over XML in Microsoft Word, and its recent settlement with VirnetX over VPN networking technology patents--but Microsoft does have an exhaustive portfolio of intellectual property and its not afraid to use it. Microsoft has filed a lawsuit against Salesforce.com alleging infringement of patents related to software efficiency.

At the heart of the lawsuit is a battle for the customer relationship management (CRM) market. CRM tools are a huge business software market, and Salesforce.com is a leader--raking in $1.3 billion in sales last year. However, Microsoft has its own CRM software and it would like to knock Salesforce.com down a notch and capture a bigger piece of that lucrative pie.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, claims that Salesforce.com's CRM software violates nine different Microsoft patents and seeks an injunction as well as significant monetary compensation. An injunction would force Salesforce.com to cease using any technologies judged in violation of Microsoft's patents, perhaps denting the capabilities of Salesforce.com's CRM product and boosting the value of Microsoft's competing Dynamics CRM software.

Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing for Microsoft said in a statement "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 also recently alleged that the Linux-based Google Android mobile operating system infringes on Microsoft intellectual property, but it entered into an amicable licensing agreement with HTC and is ostensibly in talks with other Android smartphone manufacturers. The fact that Microsoft is seeking an injunction in this case demonstrates that Microsoft sees Salesforce.com as a direct competitor and a threat to the success of Dynamics CRM software, and that it would rather hinder the capabilities of Salesforce.com than profit by its success through a licensing agreement.

Had Salesforce.com been more amenable, though, perhaps it wouldn't have come to this. According to the annual SEC regulatory filing of Salesforce.com, it acknowledged that a large tech company had contacted it regarding patent infringement allegations, but that an examination of the merits of the claims was still ongoing. If Salesforce.com would have agreed on the merits of the patent claims and entered into negotiations with Microsoft, its possible Microsoft's intellectual property could have been licensed.

Businesses that rely on Salesforce.com don't need to panic. Should Salesforce.com ultimately lose this battle, it will most likely result in minor modifications to the functionality of the software related to the Microsoft patents.

From Microsoft's perspective, if it is successful in both stripping functionality from Salesforce.com's competing CRM software with an injunction, and simultaneously hitting it in the wallet with substantial penalties and damages, it provides a win-win that can give Microsoft's Dynamics CRM a strategic window of opportunity to seize some market share.

You can follow Tony on his Facebook page , or contact him by email at tony_bradley@pcworld.com . He also tweets as @Tony_BradleyPCW .

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Customer Relationship ManagementSalesforce.comMicrosoft

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?