Microsoft sued over unified communications deal

A Wisconsin small business is suing Microsoft for allegedly misrepresenting the capabilities of its unified communications software.

Microsoft has been sued by a small Wisconsin business for allegedly misrepresenting the capabilities of its Live Communications Server product, selling the company more licenses than it needed and not providing a refund or other products to solve its original problem.

Imagineering International filed its lawsuit in December in the Fond de Lac County circuit court in Wisconsin, accusing Microsoft of breach of contract and breach of warranties, among other offenses.

Imagineering claims Microsoft failed to resolve problems the company had with deploying an enterprise version of Live Communications Server, then did not replace the product with a revamped version, Office Communications Server (OCS), as Microsoft had promised.

Microsoft also never provided Imagineering with a refund for the products and licenses it purchased, after requiring Imagineering to destroy its licenses and the software as a condition of receiving a credit toward OCS, said Jeff MacMillan, president and CEO of Imagineering.

Imagineering, a 23-person IT consulting firm and reseller, had been a Microsoft partner for about 10 years at the time it purchased the products and licenses, he said. The company has since terminated its partnership with Microsoft.

Rather than responding in the same court, Microsoft filed papers Wednesday with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in Milwaukee to move the case from the county court to the federal court, citing Imagineering's request for damages that exceed US$50,000 as one reason.

Cases heard in federal courts also tend to take longer to be resolved, and plaintiffs can lose some of their claims in summary judgment, said Michael Kuborn, an attorney representing Imagineering from the Curtis Law Office in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

A lawyer representing Microsoft did not respond to a phone call requesting comment. A Microsoft spokesperson said via e-mail Friday that Microsoft is reviewing the allegations and will make its response in court.

Imagineering alleges in its complaint that on Oct. 7, 2005, it purchased Microsoft's LCS software, 1,500 Client Access Licenses and 1,500 External Connector Licenses for a total of $70,776. At the time LCS was Microsoft's software for providing a unified communications system, which links a company's voicemail, telephone system, e-mail and other employee communications services on the same software infrastructure.

MacMillan said Friday that Microsoft representatives had informed him that LCS had the capabilities his company needed to create a unified communications platform out of its disparate systems for telephony, voicemail, fax and e-mail. Microsoft also said it would provide remote desktop capability, which was key to Imagineering's deployment, he said.

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