Microsoft denies stealing Symantec's trade secrets

Microsoft misappropriated Symantec's trade secrets and applied them to Vista, the next version of the Windows operating system, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court by the security firm yesterday which seeks to block Vista's sale.

According to The Seattle Times, Symantec alleges that its volume data storage and manipulation technologies have been "deliberately and surreptitiously misappropriated" by Microsoft and used in patent filings that resulted in US patents being granted to Microsoft for Symantec's inventions.

Microsoft said last night that the lawsuit stems "from a very narrow disagreement over the terms of a 1996 contract with Veritas to license volume management technology."

Veritas, another software giant, merged with Symantec last year. Microsoft said it has worked hard to try to resolve the issues with Symantec, but was not able to reach an agreement.

"We believe the facts will show that Microsoft’s actions were proper and are fully consistent with the contract between Veritas and Microsoft," it continued. "These claims are unfounded because Microsoft actually purchased intellectual property rights for all relevant technologies from Veritas in 2004."

Microsoft first entered into a contract with Veritas in 1996 to license volume management technology. According to Microsoft, the contract ultimately gave the Redmond firm the option to buyout the rights to Veritas’ code and intellectual property rights. In 2004, Microsoft says it exercised that right and purchased the IP rights. "Even so, we have gone to great lengths ensure that our volume management functionality continues to works side by side with Veritas’ products," it added.

"We value our relationship with Symantec, and we continue to work closely with them on a wide variety of issues," said Microsoft. "We are confident that our actions are wholly consistent with the legal agreements between Veritas and Microsoft, and that these claims will be shown to be without merit."

Symantec is seeking damages and an injunction to block sales of the already-delayed Vista.