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Symantec attempts to halt Vista with lawsuit

Ophiel X

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5/19/2006 9:29:06 AM, by Eric Bangeman

The road to Vista has been anything but a smooth one for Microsoft. Most of the difficulties Microsoft has faced so far have been technical in nature. Symantec is attempting to throw up a legal barrier in front of the software giant, accusing it in court of misusing intellectual property and violating a license agreement. Symantec is seeking financial damages, an injunction against the sale and shipment of both Vista and Longhorn server, and a recall of Windows versions currently on the market that allegedly infringe against Symantec's IP.

At the core of the dispute is Symantec VolumeManager. Originally developed by Veritas Software, Symantec acquired it when it bought out Veritas in late 2004. VolumeManager is a server management product that allows admins to easily partition volumes, automate some admin tasks, and remotely monitor volume, partition, and server information.

In 1996, Microsoft licensed a version of VolumeManager from Veritas for use in Windows 2000. According to Symantec, the company then rolled the technology into Windows Server 2003 without acquiring a further license. Symantec director of legal affairs Michael Schallop says that's problematic because Veritas (now Symantec) Storage Fondation for Windows competes with Windows Server 2003.

"The breaches of the agreement and IP violations began after Windows 2000...They were not allowed to use that intellectual property to develop products that compete against Veritas," Schallop said. "They have used our intellectual property in terms of trade secrets and source code to develop competing products."

According to the complaint, Microsoft is now incorporating Symantec's IP into the upcoming Vista and Longhorn Server products, which is why Symantec is asking for an injunction against the release of those two products.

The two companies had spent some time negotiating over the issue. Once negotiations hit an impasse, they agreed to let the courts settle it for them. Micorosoft claims that it bought the intellectual property it needed from Veritas in 2004, prior to its takeover by Symantec and that the current dispute is a "very narrow disagreement" over the original 1996 contract.

The big question is whether this lawsuit will hinder Microsoft's ability to bring Vista to market in January 2007 as currently planned. Injunctions can be powerful tools, and the mere threat of one helped convince BlackBerry maker Research In Motion to settle its patent infringment case for US$612.5 million. More recently, the US Supreme Court barred a lower court from enforcing an injunction against eBay over a patent similar to the auction giant's Buy It Now feature. The case between Microsoft and Symantec may be a different animal, as it centers on a licensing disagreement rather than a patent. Still, the lawsuit bears watching as the release of Vista draws closer.

source: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060519-6871.html

am i the only one praying that microsoft executes a hostile takeover of symantec??? *crosses fingers*

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