Victory, Of Sorts - InformationWeek

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Software // Information Management
Commentary
8/12/2004
02:54 PM
Ted Kemp
Ted Kemp
Commentary
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Victory, Of Sorts

Business Objects claims it achieved victory over MicroStrategy in a recent trade secrets trial. That depends on how you define "victory."

This week, Business Objects told the world of its triumph in a trade secrets legal battle brought against the business intelligence firm by its smaller rival MicroStrategy. Finally ruling on a trial that concluded last October, a U.S. District Court in Virginia decided, according to a Business Objects press release, that "MicroStrategy's allegations and claims against Business Objects were essentially meritless."

Well, not exactly. In 2000 and 2001, MicroStrategy employees were leaving in droves following accounting revelations that forced it to restate earnings. Several joined Business Objects, which had an office in a Chicago building also used by MicroStrategy. Some of those employees took confidential information with them when they left MicroStrategy, according to details on the ruling provided today by the Washington Post. At least one began shipping secrets over to Business Objects while he was still with MicroStrategy. And as Business Objects itself acknowledged and Business Intelligence Pipeline reported earlier this week, the court issued an injunction against the company regarding information in two documents.

The judge ruled in Business Objects' favor on allegations of patent infringement brought by MicroStrategy, so Business Objects can claim victory on that count. But the gist of the trade secrets matter is that Business Objects did, it seems, get its hands on a lot of MicroStrategy's internal information. So were MicroStrategy's accusations "meritless"? I wouldn't say so.

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