Microsoft faces a patent infringement lawsuit for not honouring an agreement made following a US court ruling in 2003.

Timeline said today that it had terminated a limited licence agreement forged with Microsoft in 1999, after the software giant breached its terms. Timeline also claimed that Microsoft's SQL Server infringes on patents held by Timeline concerning online analytical processing.

As a result, Timeline has asked the courts to add Microsoft as a defendant in its case against ProClarity, a maker of add-on reporting and data visualisation products that complement Microsoft's SQL Server. Timeline said it was required to file the motion under seal.

Microsoft and Timeline have a lengthy legal history. Microsoft licensed technology from Timeline for its SQL Server in 1999. But both companies came to legal blows over whether Microsoft could sub-license the technology to other companies that added other programs to the database software, such as ProClarity.

A Washington state judge ruled in 2003 that Microsoft's ability to sub-license the technology was "substantially limited," and Timeline was entitled to licensing fees.

Timeline now focuses on its patent portfolio having sold its operating assets and consulting business in August 2005. The company licenses technologies to Hyperion, Cognos and Oracle, among others.