Back in August, 2008, I pooh-poohed Sybase’s patent lawsuit against Vertica. Filed in the notoriously patent-holder-friendly East Texas courts, the suit basically claimed patent rights over the whole idea of a columnar RDBMS. It was pretty clear that this suit was meant to be a model for claims against other columnar RDBMS vendors as well, should they ever achieve material marketplace success.
If a recent Vertica press release is to be believed, Sybase got clobbered. The meat is:
… Sybase has admitted that under the claim construction order issued by the Court on November 9, 2009, “Vertica does not infringe Claims 1-15 of U.S. Patent No. 5,794,229.” Sybase further acknowledged that because the Court ruled that all the remaining claims in the patent (claims 16-24) were invalid, “Sybase cannot prevail on those claims.”
For those counting along at home — the patent only has 24 claims in total.
I have no idea whether Sybase can still cobble together grounds for appeal, or claims under some other patent. But for now, this sounds like a total victory for Vertica.
Edit: I’ve now seen a PDF of a filing suggesting the grounds under which Sybase will appeal. Basically, it alleges that the judge erred in defining a “page” of data too narrowly. Note that if Sybase prevails on appeal on that point, Vertica has a bunch of other defenses that haven’t been litigated yet. It further seems that Sybase may have recently filed another patent case against Vertica, in a different venue, based on a different patent.
One annoying blog troll excepted, is anybody surprised at this outcome?