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Quest Software Hit with Countersuit in Patent Case

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Aliso Viejo-based Quest Software Inc., a maker of business software that helps companies be more efficient, got slapped with a countersuit after it filed patent infringement complaints against two competitors late last week.

Sunnyvale-based Centrify Corp., which makes business software that improves upon Microsoft Corp.’s Active Directory, filed a lawsuit against Quest in the Northern District of California late Monday.

The company alleges that Quest’s authentication services infringe on a key part of its technology offering. The technology allows open source operating systems, such as Unix and Linux, to be authenticated within a centralized directory, Centrify said in a statement.

Centrify is seeking damages and an injunction on the alleged infringing products.

The move by Centrify comes after Quest sued it and another competitor, Bellevue, Wa.-based Likewise Software Inc., for patent infringement.

Centrify seems to have been a bit blindsided by the initial suit.

“We were surprised to see Quest’s lawsuit, particularly given the patent asserted against us, the strength of our intellectual property position, and the fact that we had never been contacted by Quest Software regarding any concerns they may have had regarding intellectual property,” Centrify Chief Executive Tom Kemp said in a statement.

Kemp said Quest’s suits are “a baseless attempt to distract Centrify and slow its leadership and significant growth vis-a-vis Quest in the market for securing and auditing access to cross-platform systems and applications.”

Quest announced that it filed the lawsuits late on Friday evening at the U.S. District Court in Utah.

The patent in question stems from Quest’s acquisition of Lindon, Utah-based Vintela Inc. in 2005 for about $57 million in cash. At the time of the buyout, Microsoft had a minority stake in Vintela.

“Since acquiring Vintela in 2005, Quest has invested heavily in Vintela’s products to ensure they remain the market-leading tools,” said Jackson Shaw, Quest’s senior director of product management for the identity management solutions unit. “Centrify and Likewise copied and benefited directly from the patented features that helped make Quest’s product for group policy the industry standard.”

Quest is also seeking damages and an injunction from both Centrify and Likewise.

Quest’s software improves upon other business software programs by Microsoft, Oracle Corp. and other big names.

It ranks as the third-largest software company in Orange County by sales and had a recent market value of nearly $2 billion.

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