Microsoft Accused Of Stealing Trade Secrets From British Company, Omni Group’s Wil Shipley Quoted

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Microsoft has been accused of stealing trade secrets from partner Sendo in a US court, according to Tuesdayis article in The Independent. At issue is a partnership between the two companies that proved to be less faithful from the Microsoft side, according to the company bringing the suit, Sendo. From the article:

Sendo, which was formed in 1999, thought that all of its problems had been solved when, in February 2001, the software monolith Microsoft bought less than 5 per cent of the company for $12m (£8m), valuing [Sendo] at more than £160m. Microsoft was given a seat on the board in return. But Sendo alleges that this was the start of the betrayal -- and that the Microsoft man sent to work with it was a traitor.

In a 27-page filing in a Texas court, near the companyis US subsidiary, Sendo accuses the software monolith, based in Redmond, Washington, of "misappropriation of trade secrets, common law misappropriation, conversion, unfair competition, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, negligent misrepresentation (twice), breach of contract (twice), fraudulent inducement and tortuous interference".

What Sendo is claiming is that it was misled by Microsoft, which promised that it wanted to develop mobile phones together, but instead took its trade secrets and used them behind its back to produce phones by itself. The added kicker is that if Sendo goes bust as a result, Microsoft will own all the rights to the work.

Sendo wants damages of "hundreds of millions of dollars" from Microsoft, which declined to comment on any of the allegations yesterday. A hearing is expected by the end of the month, though the case could drag on for a year.

The article continues to examine the issue at hand, including analyst comments and speculation on Microsoftis motives. Where it gets interesting, however, is with this quote from Omni Groupis Wil Shipley:

"Writing programs for Windows is like becoming a dentist for a Tyrannosaurus rex," quipped Wil Shipley, president of the software company Omni Development. "Sure, the market is big. Lots of small programmers have a vision that working with Microsoft is like being one of those little toothbrush birds for crocodiles -- the crocodile is the one eating the zebras and gazelles, but thereis plenty of crumbs left in the cracks between his teeth.

"But both Microsoft and the king of dinos are vicious carnivores, and both will snap their jaws shut as soon as share their leavings with you ... itis all meat to them."

Much more background information on this issue is available in the original Independent article.

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