Informix has charged Oracle with stealing trade secrets in the latest round of public wrangling between the two database vendors.
A lawsuit Informix started earlier this week accuses Oracle and Gary Kelley, former vice president in charge of product development at Informix, now working at Oracle, with stealing trade secrets, breach of contract, unfair competition and breach of fiduciary responsibility.
Kelley left Informix for Oracle last Wednesday with his team of 10 other former Informix research and development staff. They were working on the Informix massively parallel database called Online XPS and also on replication technology.
Barbara Stanley, Informix?s UK marketing director, said: "Oracle pro-actively instigated the poaching of our employees. The issue is that it was targeting specific staff. It?s a recognition by Oracle that we?re ahead of it in product development, but we?ve won an injunction against it, and especially Kelley, about passing on any of our trade secrets."
Steve Garnett, European vice president of marketing and alliances at Oracle, said that the lawsuit was merely smoke and mirrors by its rival - an allegation that Informix denied.
"It looks like a smokescreen to me for something that?s pretty embarrassing," Garnett said. "It?s very rare for developers to jump ship. They?ve got too much interest in getting their babies to market as a rule. The problem for Informix is that it?s got morale issues. The 11 developers quit because of a lack of urgency and vision, and the integration issues around Universal Server. It was a frustration issue,"
He claimed that Oracle did not woo them but the team had approached both Microsoft and Oracle. They opted to join Oracle which had no interest in learning trade secrets from Informix because it was more trouble than it was worth.
The lawsuit charges that the employees and Oracle engaged in "a conspiracy to misappropriate Informix?s intellectual property and gain an unfair advantage in the competitive market for database computer systems."
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 7 February but Informix has already been granted a temporary injunction against Oracle and the former employees, which prevents them from divulging trade secrets.
The injunction also temporarily prohibits Oracle from taking on or soliciting any more Informix staff. Informix wants punitive damages.
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