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RealTime IT News

Xerox Claim Vs. Palm Affirmed, Questioned

A federal court of appeals has ruled that Palm infringed upon a handwriting-recognition patent developed by Xerox, but a lower court must now determine the validity of the patent.

The ruling affirmed a lower court ruling and rejected Palm's appeal of a decision delivered in December 2001. The legal row is over Xerox's Unistrokes patent, which was developed at Xerox PARC, and enables users to input letters and numbers into personal data units with basic, one stroke handwriting movements.

The Court of Appeals did find that the lower court failed to provide adequate information and analysis of several aspects of the patent's validity. Xerox, for its part, wants the court to impose a legal injunction barring Palm from selling portable computing devices that infringe on Xerox's patent.

In 2002, the District Court ordered Palm to post a bond of $50 million to make sure Xerox would be able to collect potential damages. The case started in April 1997, when Xerox sued then-U.S. Robotics, which was subsequently acquired by 3Com, and spun off into Palm. Xerox said that Palm's Graffiti technology used in Palm, Handspring and other portable computing devices infringed on its patent.

Palm, for its part in the ongoing legal fight, says it is building new handwriting recognition technology into future software and devices.

But the court in its decision said: "We find no error in the district court's infringement analysis, and we affirm that aspect of the district court's decision."

The Xerox-Palm case now returns a portion of the case to Judge Michael Telesca, U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York in Rochester for further study of the uniqueness of the patent, giving Palm the opportunity to make another legal challenge to Xerox's contention.

The decision is being seen as a partial reprieve for Palm, as it has another chance to make its case. If Palm is not able to convince Judge Telesca, then the company would have to stop selling devices that utilize the handwriting-recognition software.