Datallegro hit with patent lawsuit in wake of Microsoft deal

Inventor accuses BI vendor of stealing technical info, after Microsoft says it's buying company

Datallegro Inc., a data warehousing appliance vendor that is being acquired by Microsoft Corp., was accused yesterday of using now-patented database technology that was developed by a San Diego-based start-up where Datallegro's founder and top executive briefly served as CEO.

In a complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Diego, Cary A. Jardin, founder of a company called XPrime, claimed that Datallegro CEO Stuart Frost used his access privileges while he was at XPrime in 2003 to steal information about technology that Jardin was then in the process of patenting. Frost founded Datallegro in June 2003.

The lawsuit says that the patent, titled "System and Method for Generating and Processing Results Data in a Distributed System," was issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Feb. 13, 2007, to Jardin as the sole inventor.

According to the suit, Frost "attempted to convert Jardin's inventions to his own by filing with the USPTO patent applications in the distributed database architecture field the same subject matter as Jardin's intellectual property." Moreover, the suit alleges that Frost "used and incorporated Jardin's intellectual property into Datallegro's products," adding that the unauthorized use of the technology "continues to this day."

A Datallegro spokeswoman declined to comment about the suit today, while Microsoft officials didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Microsoft last month announced that it was buying Datallegro, which makes high-end data warehousing appliances, to bolster the high-end business intelligence capabilities of its SQL Server database for users with multiple terabytes of information to analyze.

Curt Monash, an independent database analyst who has done consulting work for Datallegro as well as other vendors, said he didn't think Jardin's lawsuit would impact the appliance maker's existing users.

"I've been an analyst since 1981, and I'm struggling to recall a single instance of a patent lawsuit meaningfully affecting enterprise software customers," Monash wrote in an e-mail. "Occasionally a few million dollars change hands among vendors, but ongoing business isn't seriously affected."

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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