iWork Software has filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois’ Eastern Division against five companies it believes to be employing and profiting from technology it has patented.

The five companies are clients of Fairfax, VA-based webMethods Inc., a competitor of Greensboro-based iWork, a division of Falk Cos. The lawsuit was filed in September.

iWork has offered to license the patented technology to the five companies. They are Boise Cascade Corp. in Idaho; New York-based Corporate Express Inc.; Herman Miller Inc. of Zeeland, MI; Lisle, IL-based Molex Inc.; and W.W. Grainger of Lake Forest, IL.

The patent, filed in 1997 and awarded in October 2001, relates to translation software known as iWork ADC and the iWork Now! series, which allows different computer-software systems to relay information. The products have been targeted largely to companies with manufacturing or shipping needs.

The iWork methodology covers various systems and methods for communicating information between computers and their software applications in a broker and adapter integration system.

All of the claims relate to an approach in which messages from a computer are converted to a standard format by an adapter, routed by a broker to a destination computer based on defined relationships, and then converted by an adapter from the standard format into the format used by the receiving computer. These messages and routings appear as business processes unique to the end user and can occur between multiple integration technologies.

In October, webMethods filed a claim of its own against iWork, looking to invalidate the patent. It was doing so on the basis that Active Software Inc., a California company acquired by webMethods in 2000, developed and started selling its own integration software before 1997.

iWork Software: www.iworksoftware.com

webMethods: www.webmethods.com