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Pumatech Ups the Ante in Patent Squabble

With a high-profile deal with Microsoft in its back pocket, synchronization software firm Pumatech is upping the ante in its patent spat with rival Extended Systems.

Pumatech is so intent on protecting its core technology from patent infringement, that it brought in an independent consultant to qualify the merit of its claims and simultaneously announced it would continue its litigation against Extended Systems.

The San Jose, Calif.-based Pumatech has moved to the courts to ask for an injunction against future sales of Extended Systems' server and desktop products that allegedly infringe on its patents and is seeking damages for past sales. The company also alleged Extended Systems' infringement of the patents "was willful and deliberate, entitling Pumatech to an award of treble damages, costs and reasonable attorneys' fees."

The company said independent intellectual property infringement experts Johnson-Laid Inc. reviewed its claims and validated all the patents.

The patent suit, first filed in a Northern California court in April, claims the server and desktop products from Extended Systems infringe on eight synchronization-related patents owned by Pumatech. Officials from Extended Systems could not be reached for comment Monday morning.

The escalation of the patent squabble comes just days after Pumatech scored a lucrative deal to provide Microsoft's MSN service with its Intellisync software, which is used to synchronize MSN accounts and Microsoft Outlook software, Pocket PC handheld devices and Palm Desktop software.

The deal calls for Pumatech's Intellisync software to be tied into MSN to allow subscribers to enter data in a single location and to access that information from a variety of wireless devices. Financial terms of the transaction were not released.

The move to protect its intellectual property is important in an ultra-competitive space, industry watchers said. Synchronization technology is crucial to the growth of the wireless sector with users looking to migrate data from desktop PCs to wireless devices like PDAs and cell phones.

"We have made a significant investment over the past seven years in our core (technology)...We must defend our patents diligently," Pumatech CEO Woody Hobbs declared. "Our belief that Extended Systems could not have developed its desktop and server-based offerings without violating Pumatech's patents has been confirmed by Johnson-Laird, Inc.," he added.

Hobbs hinted the company would also pursue legal action against Extended Systems' customers and partners. "We are encouraged by recent court decisions that have upheld patent protection for technology companies in the wireless mobility space. We expect to take action shortly against other companies we believe are infringing our synchronization patents," he added.

Pumatech claims a total of 18 U.S. patents relating to various aspects of mobile systems technology.