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Phone.com, Geoworks in Patent Dispute

Wireless Internet software maker Phone.com Inc. struck at Geoworks Corp. Tuesday, filing a lawsuit the company hopes will allow it to avoid licensing fees on a wireless Internet standard.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., claims the patent held by rival wireless Internet access technology provider Geoworks (GWRX) is unenforceable and invalid, and that Phone.com's microbrowser and server software do not infringe on the patent.

Geoworks holds that a portion of the wireless application protocol (WAP) standard is based on its "essential intellectual property rights," and the company should be compensated for its use. If Geoworks maintains its licensing program, Phone.com would be forced to pay Geoworks up to $20,000 per year and $1 per wireless Internet user.

Alan Black, chief financial officer and vice president of Phone.com, said that Phone.com believes the lawsuit will produce an unequivocal declaration that Geowork's patent has no relation to, and is not infringed by, Phone.com's technology.

Geoworks says its licensing plan follows the rules set by the WAP Forum. Phone.com (PHCM) is a member of that organization.

Geoworks introduced its licensing plan in January, seeking fees from from those that use the WAP standard, which allows people to view bare-bones Web pages on mobile phones with Web-access.

The full text of Phone.com's complaint is available here.