Oracle sued by drug-safety software vendor

Oracle is allegedly in violation of patents held by DrugLogic

Oracle is being sued by drug-safety software vendor DrugLogic over alleged patent violations, according to a complaint filed Dec. 17 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

DrugLogic makes software for managing clinical drug trials as well as monitoring drugs after they go to market. The suit centers on competing products sold by Relsys and Phase Forward, health care software companies that were acquired by Oracle in March 2009 and April, respectively.

DrugLogic holds U.S. Patent No. 6,789,091 B2, which is titled "Method and System for Web-based Analysis of Drug Adverse Effects," according to the complaint. It was filed in 2001 and awarded in 2004.

The Relsys Argus Perceptive and Phase Forward Empirica Signal applications, which are now owned by Oracle, infringe upon that patent, according to DrugLogic's action.

Oracle, Phase Forward and Relsys were all aware of DrugLogic's patent and infringement claims before the suit was filed, the complaint states

DrugLogic is asking for an injunction barring Oracle from infringing on its patent as well as unspecified compensatory damages.

In addition to the patent infringement claims, DrugLogic is suing for breach of contract in connection with a 2004 co-marketing and development agreement it signed with Relsys. Under the pact, DrugLogic gave Relsys access to confidential information, including "code associated with [its] pharmacovigilance and signal detection tools."

Relsys broke the agreement by failing to keep the data confidential and selling it to third parties, including Oracle, according to the complaint.

Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger declined comment.

Meanwhile, it seems unlikely that any single legal action will deter Oracle from pursuing future acquisitions in health care and other verticals.

"Vertical expertise will be the key differentiator in the next round of the stack wars," said Ray Wang, CEO and principal analyst of Constellation Research, via e-mail. "Vertical acquisitions provide IP, access to markets, and mindshare."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

Tags business issuesapplicationsMergers / acquisitionsRelsyslegalCivil lawsuitspatentDruglogicsoftwarePhase ForwardOracleintellectual property

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Chris Kanaracus

IDG News Service

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