to: Interested parties
from: Timeline, inc
subject: Timeline patent coverage
Timeline’s US Patent # 5,802,511; US Patent # 6,023,694; and US Patent # 6,026,392 (herein collectively the ‘511 patents) have been termed pioneer patents in the design and use of data marts and data warehouses. Timeline has licensed the patents to Microsoft Corporation, Oracle Corporation, Lawson Software, Hyperion Solutions, Sagent Technology, Broadbase Information Systems (now part of Kana), Noetix, and Seagate (now Crystal Decisions) to provide coverage for their products in certain circumstances. Additionally, Timeline provides products which are embodiments of the ‘511 patents under OEM agreements with many companies (including Microsoft).
Timeline has also received patent coverage on all or a portion of the inventions covered by the ‘511 patents in Australia, Israel, Mexico, and Singapore. Additional patents are pending within the same field in the U.S. and many other countries.
This memorandum is intended to help third parties analyze potential patent infringement(s) as it relates to their own product offerings. It is Timeline’s position that any party on notice of the existence of the ‘511 patents has a legal duty to investigate and form a reasoned opinion on infringement. That is not Timeline’s duty. And, if a party forms an opinion that there is infringement, then its duty is to procure a patent license, or modify its products to “design around” an infringement, or cease any further use, license, maintenance, etc. of the product. Otherwise, the users, manufacturers, and distributors are subject to statutory claims for treble damages for willful infringement similar to those embodied in RICO, Anti-trust and Consumer Fraud statutes.
The ‘511 patents can apply to stand alone software products or combinations of software products. Of particular focus at this time are products used in conjunction with Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 or after. All Microsoft products stand-alone are licensed. But whether a combination of products infringes all the elements of a valid claim of a Timeline patent must be examined. If so, then whether the non-Microsoft code or product provides at least one of the material steps in such infringement must be determined. In that case, the step(s) provided by the third party product or code is not covered by Microsoft’s license. The user, licensee, licensor, or manufacturer must secure its own license or stop any further use.
Timeline takes the position that Microsoft Analyst Services databases built with Microsoft’s tools (Manager) provide all necessary steps to infringe one or more of the independent claims of the ‘511 patents. It would follow that third party products which provide the additional material feature or function covered by a dependant claim to one of those independent claims would cause a new infringement outside the scope of Microsoft’s license. Microsoft does not concede that its products in fact infringe, nor was such a statement required under the Timeline patent license it procured. Also, not every user of SQL Server will use the allegedly infringing portions of SQL Server. However, that is now moot. A combination where all material steps are present, and at least one material step is performed by a third party, requires its own license; regardless of whether Microsoft itself provided sufficient steps to independently infringe a different claim.
Timeline does not take the position that Microsoft SQL Server relational databases built using the basic DTS functionality necessarily infringe the ‘511 patents. However, Timeline believes that third party code or products used in conjunction with DTS can easily expand DTS capabilities to cause an infringing combination.
In the recent litigation Microsoft Corporation vs. Timeline, Inc., Microsoft attempted to get the courts to interpret its license to the Timeline patents such that any step performed by Microsoft products would be ignored in an infringement analysis of a combination of products used together. This would have required the court to throw out a specific limitation contained in the Timeline/Microsoft license on this point. Microsoft’s efforts failed.
With that background in mind, Timeline discusses below the importance of a number of the patent claims simply as a guide for analysis. Obviously, the discussion is generic in the absence of agreements on confidentiality, standstill or other arrangements. The 70 patent claims granted in the U.S. consist of 68 pages of technical documentation and drawings. Consequently, we cannot fully outline their application in a short memo. The descriptions used are not intended to provide the entire breadth of functions that could be covered by a cited claim, and this document does not waive or limit Timeline’s ability to claim broader or more specific application to any such function. Furthermore, we do not attempt to discuss all claims. Finally, nothing contained in this memorandum should be considered as making a claim against any particular company or product.
The patents were granted under the title “Data Retrieval Method and Apparatus With Multiple Source Capability”. The ‘511 patents cover key technologies in automating the production of data warehouses/marts and the downstream delivery and enhancement of the information so obtained. You can secure copies from any number of web sites.
A key design feature of Timeline’s own products is the use of a logical database (target) separate from the transaction system (source). Examples of claims are:
We urge you to obtain and read the full text of these patents, available at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website (www.uspto.gov).