Beleagured database supplier Informix suddenly dropped a contentious trade secrets lawsuit with Oracle on Monday, exonerating its arch rival of what it had claimed were ?sleazy? business practices.
Informix had accused Oracle of poaching 13 engineers and alleged that they had taken away trade secrets about key Informix technology. But on Monday the company was forced to admit that "the engineers have not misappropriated or disclosed any confidential Informix information and that Informix?s trade secrets are adequately protected."
Neither company was prepared to comment on Informix? sudden retreat, but in a statement the latter apologised for its actions. "Informix regrets any statements or allegations that the engineers misappropriated any trade secrets or disclosed them to Oracle," it said.
The engineers quit Informix in January. According to Oracle, they had touted their services around a number of suppliers after becoming increasingly disaffected with senior management at Informix. But Informix sued, charging 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."
Informix chief executive Phil White was incensed by their defection and was determined to stop them moving to Oracle. He adopted a high moral stance, claiming that Informix was acting for the greater good of the software industry. "I want to stop Oracle from doing this sleazy kind of stuff," he said. He even went as far as visiting Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison?s home to ask him to give them back; Ellison wasn?t home.
Monday?s climb down was prefaced in March by a partial withdrawal when allegations against most of the defectors were toned down, although Informix continued to pick on Gary Kelley, formerly vice president in Informix's product development organization as the supposed ringleader who encouraged the others to quit for Oracle. Kelley was the architect of Informix massively parallel technology.
Informix, which recently reported $140 million losses, last month axed 100 staff from its US operation and is expected to can a further 500 in the coming weeks.
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