Informix Responds to IBM Patent Suit

U.S. database and tools vendor Informix has responded to a patent infringement lawsuit from IBM with a countersuit of its own, the company announced yesterday.

Informix has filed a lawsuit with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, charging Big Blue with infringement of four Informix patents, the vendor said in a statement issued yesterday.

Both IBM and Informix officials were not immediately available to comment.

The company also used the statement to directly respond to the original lawsuit filed by IBM last month. "Informix's response denies infringement of the IBM patents, asserts that the IBM patents are invalid and unenforceable, and claims that IBM has infringed four Informix patents," Informix said.

The lawsuit, which charges that IBM's DB2 database products infringe on several Informix patents, seeks "substantial damages," and calls for an injunction against the manufacture and sale of the IBM software in question, Informix said.

IBM originally filed an action against Informix last month at the U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Delaware, alleging patent infringement relating to six patents dealing with database software, as well as software for distributed processing and data compression technology.

The patents at the heart of the dispute were awarded to IBM between June 16, 1981, and July 21, 1992, according to IBM's action. The titles of the patents include "Method for Assuring Atomicity of Multi-Row Update Operations in a Database System," "Data Compression Method" and "Method for Referential Constraint Enforcement in a Database Management System."

Informix software alleged to have infringed the IBM patents is as follows, both database and development tool products: Online Dynamic Server versions 6 and 7, Online version 5, SE version 6, NewEra version 1, STAR, NET, Illustra Visual Information Retrieval version 1.2 and Illustra Visual Intelligence Viewer version 1.1. Informix acquired object-oriented database specialist Illustra Information Technologies in 1996.

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