Visto Sues Microsoft
By CINDY WAXER
Just a day after Visto announced a deal to license mobile e-mail technology from NTP Inc., the mobile e-mail developer has taken legal action against Microsoft for allegedly infringing upon multiple patents Visto holds regarding proprietary technology that provides consumers with mobile access to their e-mail and data.
Visto claims Microsoft's Windows Mobile 5.0 infringes on three of its patents that provide users with access to corporate e-mail servers on their mobile devices. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, asks the court for a permanent injunction that would prohibit Microsoft from using the technology, as well as monetary damages.
"Microsoft has a long and well-documented history of acquiring the technology of others, branding it as their own, and entering new markets," said Brian A. Bogosian, Visto’s chairman, CEO and president.
The lawsuit against Microsoft comes a day after Visto announced signing a licensing agreement with patent holding company NTP Inc., which successfully sued Canadian company Research In Motion, for violating its patents. NTP is currently seeking a court injunction to shut down the BlackBerry e-mail service in the United States, after a federal judge rejected a $450 million settlement reached earlier in the year between RIM and NTP.
At stake for RIM is a $14 billion market valuation, 20 years’ worth of product development and the freedom to sell its iconic devices in the United States. For nearly four years, RIM has been in the crosshairs of the patent infringement lawsuit that, in the first quarter of 2005 alone, cost the company US $4.5 million in legal fees.
Such patent rows are prompting many vendors to hedge their bets. Good Technology recently reached a patent-licensing agreement with NTP. In turn, NTP agreed to invest an undisclosed amount in the Sunnyvale, California-based wireless email software maker and young RIM rival. And Finland’s Nokia, a mobile phone maker behemoth, recently obtained a licensing agreement from NTP for use of five patents.
Cindy Waxer is a Toronto-based freelance journalist specializing in business and technology. She has written for publications including TIME, Fortune Small Business, Business 2.0, Computerworld, Canadian Business, and Workforce Management. To see more of her articles, please visit Cindy Waxer’s columnist page.