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Salesforce.com CEO on Microsoft Suit: What’d You Expect From a Patent Troll?

Published on May 25, 2010
by John Paczkowski

Microsoft’s patent-infringement suit against Salesforce.com has drawn a scathing response from Marc Benioff, the customer relationship management software provider’s mercurial CEO. During a company conference in Singapore, Benioff slagged the software giant for filing the suit, branding it a patent troll.

“Patent trolls are part of the industry today; that’s just the way it is,” he said. “We’ve dealt with them before and we’ll deal with this situation in the same exact way. I’m just very disappointed in this, from a former leader of our industry, that they would do this.”

Benioff’s remarks today echo those he made during a May 20 earnings call, though this time he exercised a bit of restraint and stopped short of decrying Microsoft (MSFT) as a bunch of “alley thugs.”

His message, I suppose, is that Salesforce.com (CRM) isn’t much worried by Microsoft’s suit–though perhaps it should be, given the limited patent portfolio in its defense arsenal and Microsoft’s endgame here. As analyst Rob Enderle wrote last week:

Microsoft wants to set an example and losing isn’t an option. In addition the patents in question are key to being able to defend Microsoft’s existing market making the combination into one of the most important legal efforts that Microsoft is likely to undertake. This means they probably won’t settle, will fund the effort fully, and will do whatever it takes to make it successful. ?

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