"MENLO PARK, Calif.-February 7, 2000-Informix Corporation (NASDAQ: IFMX), the
technology leader in the software infrastructure for the i.Economy, announced
that International Business Machines Corporation has filed an action against
Informix in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware alleging
infringement of several United States patents owned by IBM.
strongly believes that the allegations are utterly devoid of merit and intends
to defend the action vigorously and to assert such claims against IBM as may
accuses Informix of patent infringements in several of its database-related
products, including Informix-OnLine and Informix-OnLine Dynamic Server, two
of the company's staple software brands.
to sources, IBM is filing to get a court order that could prevent Informix from
shipping products that contain technologies IBM claims infringe upon its inventions.
IBM is seeking unspecified compensatory damages in the suit, which it wants
tripled because of what it considers Informix's willful violation. The patents
involve distributed processing and data compression technology.
spokesman for IBM stated on Wednesday that "no comment" would be the official
position for the time being. On Tuesday, Informix chief executive Jean-Yves
Dexmier denied any patent infringement.
Informix's stock was down 11 percent on Tuesday, but has since recovered much
of the loss.
Informix was already in a state of flux due to its reinvention of itself as
an "i.commerce" company (see "Informatica
Morphs Into Decision Support Vendor", January 3, 2000). Additional instability
was added by the company's purchase of Ardent Software (see "Informix
to Acquire Ardent Software-Another Vendor's Attempt at End-to-End Data Warehousing",
December 14, 1999), a transaction that was expected to close this month. The
additional turmoil that has been added by this development is bound to distract
Informix from its mission critical objectives.
Informix loses the lawsuit, their products will be deeply affected and the company
will suffer a great deal of financial damage. However, it is quite possible
that Informix is correct in their statement that they are "much convinced that
IBM is concerned about our momentum and progress, and they're trying to shut
it down" by suing over patents that all pre-date 1993.
Customers evaluating both Informix and Ardent software offerings should be especially
cautious until more is known about the nature and scope of the lawsuit. Since
the lawsuit appears to affect Informix's core database products, if IBM wins
the suit Informix will have to expend research & development dollars on a non-productive
effort to remove and rewrite the offending code, or will have to pay licensing
fees to IBM.