Business Objects wins MicroStrategy patent suit appeal

Business Objects will have its day in court after all. A U.S. Federal appeals court ruled late last week that a trial be held to determine if MicroStrategy infringed a Business Objects patent on a relational database access system.

The move by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturns a summary judgment by a federal court in California in August 2003. The lower court found that MicroStrategy's products did not violate U.S. Patent No. 5,555,403, entitled "Relational Database Access System Using Semantically Dynamic Objects." Such systems are used by companies to analyze data about customers, sales and products to improve their business.

The Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., said in its ruling that "the district court erred in holding that an amendment to claim 4 (of the patent) during the prosecution narrowed the scope of the claim."

Claim 4 of the patent relates to what comprises a relational database access system. One such aspect, how a query engine generates queries using a predetermined query language, did have some relation to the product by MicroStrategy, the court ruled.

"MicroStrategy's accused products also allow lay users to use familiar names to query a relational database. The accused products, however, use a much more sophisticated approach to generating queries than the invention of the '403 patent," the Court of Appeals said in its ruling.

A trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is expected to begin later this year, Business Objects said Friday.

Business Objects, with primary operations in San Jose, California, and Paris, originally filed the lawsuit against MicroStrategy in October 2001 and had sought more than US$100 million in damages.

Representatives from Business Objects and MicroStrategy could not immediately be reached for comment.

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