Microsoft accused of breach of contract

Microsoft Corp. could face another lawsuit from a patent portfolio company over technology within its SQL Server database.

Timeline Inc., of Seattle, Washington, said Monday it terminated a limited license agreement forged with Microsoft in 1999 after the software giant allegedly breached its terms.

Timeline also charged that Microsoft’s SQL Server infringes on patents held by Timeline concerning online analytical processing.

As a result, Timeline filed a motion in U.S. federal district court in Seattle, asking to add Microsoft as a defendant in a case against ProClarity Corp, a maker of add-on reporting and data visualization products that complement Microsoft’s SQL Server.

Timeline said it was required to file the motion under seal.

In June 2005, Timeline sued ProClarity for patent infringement.

Microsoft and Timeline have a lengthy legal history. Microsoft licensed technology from Timeline for its SQL Server in 1999.

But both companies came to legal blows over whether Microsoft could sublicense the technology to other companies that added other programs to the database software, such as ProClarity.

A Washington state judge ruled in 2003 that Microsoft’s ability to sublicense the technology was “substantially limited,” and Timeline was entitled to licensing fees.

Timeline’s business focuses on its patent portfolio and sold the operating assets of its software licensing, maintenance and consulting business in August 2005.

Timeline licenses software technologies to company such as Hyperion Solutions Corp., Cognos Inc. and Oracle Corp.