RealTime IT News

eMailbag: Open Patents, Verio, Verisign, General Magic

First reader up this week:

"Steve, getting a patent approved is a time consuming process. I suppose Open Market now has the right to receive royalties from licensing. It may also mean it can threaten or actually sue other companies which are using a patented process. Maybe it just means the company was congratulating itself and got mentioned in the WSJ and all that. Doesn't hurt."

Reply: Open Market was granted patents for electronic commerce items which it applied for back in 1993 when the Internet didn't even have ads and commerce was a foreign concept, despite the '.com' in domains.

Yet patents are great, on paper. And perhaps Open Market may realize some revenue from these. Patents, however, also give the public access to the plans filed with the patent office. And going to court to defend patents, we suspect, could cost a lot of money--and time. Sure, the bigger corporations may cough up a few bucks but we'll wait and see how and when, and how much. Overall, commerce software is Open Market's focus, so if the patents can boost those sales then they worked. If they detract time and energy from that then....

Very Curious

"Dear Steve, Could you please tell me when Verio is planning to go public and who the underwriters are? Thanks very much."

Reply: See ISR March 3 for our analysis of Verio's initial public offering. Once companies file they can go pubic "as soon as practicable" after doing so--Verio filed Feb. 27 the initial papers, the S-1. Look for a 'red herring' soon from underwriters Salomon Smith Barney, CS First Boston, DLJ. Call the underwriters and ask for more details.

Rabbit In The Hat?

"You might be interested in following General Magic, Inc. (NASDAQ:GMGC - news) , a small relatively unknown software company that has recently licensed it Serengeti software to Microsoft. The company has approx. 26 million shares outstanding and closed on Thursday at 5 1/16."

Reply: We wrote about General Magic more than three years ago when it went public. It found the alchemy of the market then as GMGC shares popped, but fell off the radar as far as we're concerned as personal digital assistants never seemed to hit the big time with the public.

As the Internet embraces devices and PDAs perhaps GMGC could pull a hat trick.

Sign Sign, Everywhere A Sign

"What is your opinion of VERISIGN?"

Reply: In glorious detail see the archives at ISR Feb. 3 for our analysis of Verisign.