Symantec has asked a U.S. court to order a halt to the development of Windows Vista, claiming that its rival is wrongfully incorporating Veritas storage technology into its next-generation OS.
Symantec sued Microsoft on Thursday, seeking unspecified damages and also asking the court to remove Symantec's storage technology from a variety of Microsoft products, including Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and the upcoming Vista and "Longhorn" Windows Server products. "We're asking them to remove the technology, because it belongs to us," a Symantec spokesman said Thursday.
The dispute centers around an August 1996 agreement between the two companies that granted Microsoft the right to use Veritas Software's volume management technology in its Windows NT product. Symantec purchased Veritas in a US$10.2 billion acquisition that closed last year.
Symantec claims that Microsoft misappropriated its technology and even tricked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office into granting Microsoft patents based on Symantec intellectual property. The security and storage vendor also says that portions of Microsoft's next-generation Vista and "Longhorn" server OSes are based on this misappropriated software.
Microsoft believes it has every right to use the Veritas technology, the company said in a statement. "These claims are unfounded because Microsoft actually purchased intellectual property rights for all relevant technologies from Veritas in 2004," Microsoft said. "The  contract ultimately gave Microsoft the option to buy out the rights to Veritas' code and intellectual property."
According to Symantec, however, this 1996 contract prevents Microsoft from developing products that compete with the Veritas software. Vista contains a number of competing features, relating to the way Vista manages data that is stored on a number of hard drives, Symantec said.
Microsoft's buy-out was an "ill-conceived effort to whitewash" this breach of the agreement, the court filings state.
The two companies have been working at resolving the dispute since 2004, when Symantec caught wind of the Vista features following an early release of the OS at Microsoft's annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference.
During that period, Symantec learned that "Microsoft was so bold as to file fraudulent documents with the U.S. government, claiming stake to certain Veritas inventions," the court filings state. The Microsoft patents in question, which relate to storage management, are: No. 6,553,387, No. 6,629,202, No. 6,681,310, No. 6,684,231 and No. 6,735,603.