Salesforce.com CEO says Microsoft is a patent troll

Marc Benioff lays into Redmond after lawsuit is issued

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff is declining to comment on the patent lawsuit brought against his company by Microsoft, but that didn't stop him from calling his rival names during Salesforce.com's CloudForce conference in Singapore this week.

Last week, Microsoft sued Salesforce.com, alleging that the SaaS CRM specialist infringed nine of its patents. The suit covers several broad patents, including one for a system used to display a web page with embedded menus. Another patent covered by the suit covers a method for stacking toolbars in a computer display.

Speaking with reporters on the sidelines of CloudForce, Benioff declined to comment on specifics of the suit, but reiterated his description of Microsoft as a patent troll.

"Patent trolls are part of the industry today, that's just the way it is. We've dealt with them before and we'll deal with this situation in the same exact way," Benioff said, noting that the lawsuit would have no material impact on the company.

"I'm just very disappointed in this, from a former leader of our industry, that they would do this," he said. "We will resolve it in the way that we have resolved these matters in the past."

During a keynote speech held earlier, Benioff repeatedly mocked Microsoft, describing the company's products as old technology that's out of sync with the emergence of cloud computing.

In an earlier conference session, Benioff questioned Microsoft's recent release of a new version of its Office productivity suite, which includes a free web version. The web version of Office 2010 is Microsoft's attempt to add cloud-computing capabilities to its productivity suite, but Benioff said it falls short.

"It's a false cloud," he said.

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Tags cloudforceSalesforce.comMicrosoftMarc Benioff

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