Vendor claims HP stole its web testing software invention

Small firm files complaint against giant vendor, claiming its IP was appropriated

A California software vendor is claiming that Hewlett-Packard officials evaluated its eValid website testing technology, then subsequently stole its intellectual property for use in a rival product released last year.

Software Research, based in San Francisco, has filed a complaint against HP in US District Court for the Northern District of California.

The complaint says eValid stems from research that Software Research CEO Edward Miller began in 1997 as he tried to find a way to improve performance testing for "rich, interactive websites", the complaint stated. "After significant effort and expenditure, Dr Miller invented ... a method that entailed building the software test tools into a browser ... thereby performing performance, stress and load testing efficiently, reliably, reproducibly and quickly."

Software Research was granted two patents related to the technology, according to the complaint.

HP's alleged theft stemmed from interactions the company had with Software Research in 2008, it says.

At that time, "HP did not offer a test enabled web browser testing tool," the complaint states. HP set up some conference calls with Software Research in early 2008, saying it was interested in evaluating eValid, it adds.

During those meetings as well as in "detailed email exchanges," Miller explained how eValid worked to several HP employees. The explanations included written answers to "detailed technical questions" HP posed, the complaint says.

Software Research also gave HP a copy of eValid, which it used for evaluation purposes, according to the complaint. HP was made aware that eValid was protected under an issued patent, and that other patents were pending, it says.

However, "after fully evaluating SRI's eValid product, HP told [Software Research] that HP had no interest in offering a test-enabled web browser product," the complaint states. "HP then broke off discussions."

Last year, HP released TruClient, a product "it characterised as a 'completely revolutionary' testing solution for websites," the complaint states. TruClient is part of HP's LoadRunner suite. A LoadRunner product manager had met with Software Research in 2008, it states.

TruClient infringes Software Research's patents "and is precisely the product that HP previously told [Software Research] that HP would not release," it adds.

SRI is asking for an injunction barring HP from using the patents, as well as various damages.

As of Thursday, HP had not filed a response to Software Research's claim. An HP spokesman said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

At one point, Software Research apparently viewed TruClient's release as a positive.

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