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Patent Infringement Charge Beholds Microsoft

UPDATED: Mobile software solutions provider Visto has filed suit against Microsoft alleging that its Windows Mobile 5.0 infringes on three Visto-awarded patents.

Visto is seeking unspecified financial damages and an injunction against Microsoft to prohibit continued use of Visto's patents.

The suit against Microsoft comes just one day after Visto signed an agreement with RIM nemesis NTP for the use of its patent in Visto's mobile technologies.

The Visto lawsuit specifies three U.S. patents that Microsoft is allegedly infringing upon: "System And Method For Securely Synchronizing Multiple Copies Of A Workspace Element In A Network" (6,085,192); "System and Method for Globally and Securely Accessing Unified Information In A Computer Network" (6,708,221); and "System And Method For Using A Workspace Data Manager To Access, Manipulate And Synchronize Network Data" (6,151,606).

Visto said it developed the patented technology nearly a decade ago. The software gives users mobile access to e-mail and other data and is used by large mobile carriers including Sprint-Nextel, Vodaphone and Cingular.

Microsoft's bundling of Windows Mobile 5.0 with Microsoft Exchange, the company said, "potentially increases the rate and manner in which their infringement on Visto's patents occurs."

"For their foray into mobile e-mail and data access, Microsoft simply decided to misappropriate Visto's well-known and documented patented technology," Brian A. Bogosian, Visto's chairman, CEO and president, said in a statement.

A Microsoft spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Research In Motion's patent nemesis NTP now also owns an equity stake in Visto, thanks to an agreement signed yesterday, which also includes licensing rights.

"This license agreement further reinforces the strength and validity of NTP founder Thomas Campana's lifelong work in the mobile communications industry as an inventor and a visionary," said Donald E. Stout, co-founder of NTP, in a statement.

"Additionally, 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."

Microsoft and Visto are hardly strangers. In February of 2004, Visto inked a preferred partnership agreement deal with Microsoft "to promote and market its Visto Mobile Personal Edition mobile e-mail/PIM solution jointly to mobile operators."

In an afternoon conference call, Bogosian said that as far as he was aware, the agreement is still in place, though he admitted that he hasn't had any conversations with Microsoft for some time about the agreement or about today's lawsuit.

"There is a Microsoft relationship with Visto. They certainly have had access to our technology and are well aware of our functionality," Bogosian said. "They certainly believed that we had superior technology."

Users of Visto Mobile can be assured of access to mobile e-mail and data, as they are licensed to use NTP's intellectual property. We are excited about our ownership stake in Visto's future."