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Tibco wants to squash test results

The software maker takes another competitor to court, this time to prevent publication of unflattering test results of a messaging product.

Software maker Tibco has taken another competitor to court, this time to prevent publication of unflattering test results.

Tibco informed Sonic Software late last week that it planned to seek a temporary restraining order preventing Sonic from publishing the results of benchmark tests that compare Sonic's SonicMQ messaging software with Tibco's Enterprise for JMS product.

A Tibco representative on Wednesday confirmed the company had filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and summary judgment to halt publication of the allegedly misleading test scores. The motion originally was filed in San Francisco Superior Court but has been moved to the U.S. District Court for Northern California.

The motion claims breach of contract pertaining to licensing provisions included with the Tibco software, plus false advertising, unfair competition and fraud. Tibco spokesman Brian Berger said the test results, which Sonic presents as independent, actually come from a Sonic contractor using Sonic equipment and running different routines for the two applications. "It's great when you can state factual claims that are accurate, but these claims are false and misleading," Berger said.

Earlier last week, Tibco sued Apple Computer. That suit claims Apple's use of the name "Rendezvous" for networking software used in services such as iTunes infringes on Tibco's trademark for its Rendezvous messaging software.

Tibco notified Sonic of the action in a letter that said the test results published by Sonic are misleading and constitute an unlawful use of Tibco's software.

Tibco and other software makers commonly include provisions in their product licenses that prohibit the disclosure of any benchmark tests done using the software, on the grounds that such tests can easily be manipulated to confuse potential customers.

Sonic has made a point recently of deleting such provisions from its licenses. Sonic President Greg O'Connor said customers benefit from the free exchange of information and are savvy enough to make their own decisions on how a particular set of tests applies to their business.

"In almost every other context I can think of, when comparative product information is used to position a product in the marketplace, the credibility of your claims speaks for itself," he said. "If you get in the business of publishing spurious claims about your products, the marketplace sorts that out pretty quickly and deals with you accordingly."

The disputed tests, conducted by independent research firm Jahming Technologies, show Sonic's product handling a significantly greater volume of messaging traffic than Tibco's software.

Benchmarking disputes aren't unique to the software industry. Supporters of Apple, Intel and Advanced Micro Devices chips frequently spar over test results, as do graphics chip makers.