Microsoft Sued Over Mobile E-Mail Patents - InformationWeek
08:32 AM

Microsoft Sued Over Mobile E-Mail Patents

Mobile E-mail vendor Visto has sued Microsoft, claiming Windows Mobile violates its patents. Visto also teamed with NTL, which sued RIM.

Mobile e-mail technology vendor Visto Thursday claimed that Microsoft's Windows Mobile 5.0 platform violates its patents and has signed a licensing agreement with NTP, which has sued Research In Motion for alleged patent violations.

In addition, NTP has acquired an equity stake in Visto, the company said in a statement.

Visto said in a statement that it has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Microsoft in U.S. District Court in Texas that covers three specific patents owned by Visto. The complaint asks the court to prohibit Microsoft from improperly using Visto's intellectual property and asks for compensation.

Visto is among the vendors offering mobile e-mail service via cellular operators. Among those operators are Cingular, Sprint Nextel and Canada's Rogers Wireless.

Visto said in a strongly-worded statement that its co-founder, Daniel Mendez was among those who developed and patented a system to enable mobile users to receive e-mail delivered to servers behind corporate firewalls. Microsoft touted Windows Mobile 5.0, which it released last summer, as being able to connect directly to Microsoft Exchange Server so that device users have direct access to their e-mail and other personal information.

“Microsoft has a long and well-documented history of acquiring the technology of others, branding it as their own, and entering new markets,” Visto president and CEO Brian A Bogosian said in a statement. “In some cases, they buy that technology from its creator. In other cases, they wrongfully misappropriate the intellectual property that belongs to others. For their foray into mobile email and data access, Microsoft simply decided to misappropriate Visto’s well known and documented patented technology.”

Bogosian added: “Innovative companies have been pummeled out of existence or into minor players after Microsoft decided to enter their markets. Netscape and RealNetworks are among the best known examples. Courts around the world have ruled time after time against Microsoft, saying that it has acted either inappropriately or in violation of the law, especially concerning how they have treated competing companies. We will not let that happen to Visto.”

In a separate statement, Visto said that it has signed a licensing agreement with NTP, which holds patents that it has claimed RIM violates with its BlackBerry devices. It claimed that NTP's patents complement Visto's patents regarding mobile e-mail and data access.

Visto said in a statement that the agreement gives it access to NTP's patents. Both NTP and Visto called the agreement a win for users and protection against the possibility that RIM could be ordered by courts to stop operating in the U.S..

"This is a clear win for mobile e-mail users everywhere as it provides them with a viable alternative to RIM that protects them from any NTP litigation risk," Donald E. Stout, co-founder of NTP, said in a statement.

"Mobile users now know that Visto provides a safe and secure harbor that today Blackberry cannot offer its own customers," Visto's Bogosian said in a statement.

Financial details of the arrangements between Visto and NTP were not available.

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