Lotus claimed on Thursday that a lawsuit filed against the company by search engine vendor Verity would not delay the launch of the long-awaited Lotus Notes 5 and Domino 5. Meanwhile, Verity is leaving the door open for a negotiated solution.
Verity on Wednesday announced that it was suing Lotus for ?breach of contract, copyright infringement and unfair competition?. The dispute arose out of a 1992 license agreement between both companies. Lotus has licensed Verity?s search engine for use in its Lotus Notes groupware product.
The conflict concerns the use of Verity?s search software in the upcoming release 5.0 of Lotus Notes. Verity claims that Lotus is using its software ?far outside the scope permitted by its contract with Verity?. It is apparently basing this claim on Lotus? public statements about the document retrieval and viewing features in its upcoming products.
Verity is asking for an injunction against Lotus, as well as the payment of damages. Verity also said it is terminating the licence agreement.
Verity claimed that it negotiated with Lotus about the dispute for some months, but decided to sue when no agreement could be reached.
?We basically feel that the complaint has no merit?, responded Lotus spokesman Paul Davis. He refused to comment on the exact content of the complaint.
He said the complaint would not delay Notes 5. ?We don?t foresee any impact on our development plans and on our delivery timetable?, he said. After some earlier delays, the Notes 5 client and Domino 5 server are still scheduled to ship in the second half of 1998, he confirmed.
When asked by VNU Newswire about what would happen if the conflict with Verity is not resolved, he answered: ?There are other products?. He suggested that including search software from a different vendor into Notes 5 could be done without impacting the product?s release schedule.
Meanwhile, there are indications that Verity may be softening its stance. ?We remain hopeful that there will be a business solution to this?, said Verity spokesperson Nancy Tatum on Thursday. She refused to comment on the possibility that Lotus might opt for another supplier, leaving Verity in the cold.
The launch of Notes 5 and Domino 5 is of great importance to Lotus, analysts agree. It is a crucial step in Lotus? multi-year plan to support Internet standards in its groupware environment. And it bridges the gap between Notes and Lotus? cc:Mail e-mail offering.
The Notes 5 client, which sports a browser-like interface, will be the successor to both the Notes and cc:Mail clients and will connect to cc:Mail servers, while the Domino 5 server is said to include the functionality of cc:Mail.
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