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Tibco Sues Sonic Over Product Comparison

A Sonic white paper compares Sonic-paid, consultant-run test results of Java Message Service capabilities of SonicMQ and Tibco's Enterprise for JMS; Tibco says the testing was unfair.

Enterprise integration vendor Tibco Software Inc. is suing Sonic Software Corp., a newcomer to business-integration software, over its comparison of a Tibco product to a Sonic product in a white paper on its Web site.

Tibco filed suit on Aug. 29 in California Superior Court in San Francisco. The case will move to U.S. District Court for the Northern California District at the request of lawyers for Sonic, says a Tibco spokesman.

The white paper compared results on Java Message Service capabilities of Sonic's SonicMQ and Tibco's Enterprise for JMS. The test was run by an outside consultant, Jahming Technologies, hired by Sonic, according to Sonic president Greg O'Connor, who says Sonic "makes it obvious" in its white paper that the tester is being paid by Sonic.

"We are seeking a restraining order and preliminary injunction" against Sonic's continued publication of the white paper results, says the Tibco spokesman. Tibco's complaint charges Sonic with "breach of contract, statutory fake advertising, statutory unfair competition, common-law unfair competition, and common-law fraud," he says. "The results of the testing were unfair and the white paper wasn't from an independent third party."

Both the Sonic and Tibco products are competing for the same customers, and Sonic has been winning a disproportionate share in financial services, O'Connor says. The white paper has been on the Sonic site since June 16, he notes.

Both SonicMQ and Tibco Enterprise for JMS are Java Messaging Service message handlers that interface with IBM's MQ Series, a dominant piece of middleware for exchanging messages between applications, and Tibco's Rendevous middleware. IBM, Sonic, and Tibco have emerged as the top three competitors for using Java Messaging Service, part of Sun Microsystems' Java 2 Enterprise Edition platform.

Sonic said on Sept. 2 that too many software companies, including itself, have tried to exclude direct comparison of products. Tibco's terms for downloading and trying Tibco Enterprise for JMS exclude testing the product for comparison purposes and making public the results.

O'Connor says Sonic didn't violate the terms because it downloaded Tibco Enterprise for JMS and turned it over to a consultant, who tested inside Sonic's doors. The terms of the download allow such a test, he says, and Sonic has made a similar comparison between its product and IBM's MQ Series, with IBM responding by critiquing the results on its Web site but not filing suit to remove them from public view.

"These guys are taking a more litigious approach," he says.

Two days earlier, Tibco filed suit against Apple Computer Inc. for its use of the name Rendevous in a networking product that discovers other Apple users or resources on a network. Apple's Rendevous is part of the Macintosh current OS X 10.2 operating system.

In its complaint, Tibco says it has used Rendevous as a product name since 1994. It says Apple began using it as a product name in 2002. "For quite some time we have tried to reach an amicable agreement but, given Apple's continual refusal to honor our trademark, we have been forced to take action," says George Ahn, chief marketing officer of Tibco.

Apple spokesmen refused to comment on the pending litigation.

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