Lotus files lawsuit amid Web struggle

Amid several Web-related announcements for its Domino server, Lotus has filed a lawsuit against Web groupware company Radnet.

Amid several Web-related announcements for its Domino server, Lotus has filed a lawsuit against Web groupware company Radnet.

Some observers say the move could be an attempt to unfairly narrow the Internet playing field.

The lawsuit, filed last week, alleges that Radnet president Don Bulens, a Lotus vice-president until last August, violated the terms of his Lotus employment agreement when he recruited a Lotus sales representative before one year had passed since his departure.

Radnet's WebShare Web groupware product competes directly with Lotus' Domino server. Cambridge-based Radnet recently announced enhancements that tightly integrate WebShare with Microsoft and Netscape server suites.

The lawsuit was filed concurrently with last week's Domino Developers Conference, in Anaheim, California. At the event, Lotus described Java enhancements that will make Domino's interface consistent whether a user is accessing the server from a Notes client or a browser. During the conference, Lotus emphasised that the Domino server offers the functionality that has been promised, but has not been delivered, by Microsoft and Netscape.

Lotus has also confirmed work with Sun to allow Notes 4.5 to serve and contain Java Beans components. Programmers using Java Beans will be able to reuse components made with one vendor's tool in another vendor's application development environment.

Lotus has also announced full support for the Java Database Connectivity standard in 1997, easing access to Notes data.

The lawsuit is seen as yet another Web strike.

"They're going after Radnet because they know they can squash them," says a source close to Lotus. "Radnet is the first Domino competitor to actually deliver an application, so Lotus is sending a message to current employees and to competitors."

"This is probably a pre-emptive move to make it difficult for a company like Netscape to buy Radnet," added David Marshak, an analyst with Patricia Seybold Group, in Boston.

Lotus' latest steps to compete in Internet space

* Bundling of Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer with Notes clients

* Enriching Notes 4.5 Java applets

* Offline browsing and HTTP server replicating with Weblicator

* Supporting Java Database Connectivity

* Working with Sun to develop Java Beans components

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