Data warehousing vendor, Datallegro has been accused of using now-patented database technology that was developed by a San Diego-based startup where DATAllegro's founder and top executive briefly served as CEO.The suit will be an embarrassing distraction for Microsoft following its recent decision to buy Datallegro.

In the complaint, Cary A. Jardin, founder of a company called XPrime, claimed that DATAllegro CEO Stuart Frost used his access privileges while he was at XPrime in 2003 to steal information about technology that Jardin was then in the process of patenting. Frost founded DATAllegro in June 2003.

The lawsuit says that the patent, titled "System and Method for Generating and Processing Results Data in a Distributed System," was issued by the US Patent and Trademark Office on 13 February 2007, to Jardin as the sole inventor.

According to the suit, Frost "attempted to convert Jardin's inventions to his own by filing with the USPTO patent applications in the distributed database architecture field, the same subject matter as Jardin's intellectual property." Moreover, the suit alleges that Frost "used and incorporated Jardin's intellectual property into Datallegro's products," adding that the unauthorised use of the technology "continues to this day."

Neither Frost nor Microsoft officials were immediately available for comment on the suit.