BackWeb Sues Microsoft Over Auto Update

The ink was barely dry in the suit and countersuit passion play of Microsoft versus TomTom, when another tech firm sued Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) for allegedly infringing four of its patents in the software behemoth’s automatic update technologies.

Israel-based BackWeb Technologies filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco division, on Friday. The company has its U.S. headquarters in San Jose.

“BackWeb alleges Microsoft’s Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS), Windows Update and other products infringe four U.S. patents owned by BackWeb covering methods for transmitting information between a remote network and a local computer and distributed client-based data caching systems,” a statement released by BackWeb said.

BackWeb claims to own four patents, the first one granted in 1999, that describe how to perform file transfers in the background between a user’s PC and a server, or between two PCs in a peer-to-peer configuration. They also provide for prioritization of multiple simultaneous file transfers, including the ability to “throttle” the flow of information to achieve that prioritization, according to BackWeb’s suit.

“In 2001, Microsoft introduced a technology that it calls BITS … [which] transfers files in the foreground or background, throttles the transfers … and automatically resumes file transfers after network disconnects and machine restarts,” the filing said.

The filing goes on to allege that Microsoft started using BITS version 3 in 2007, which added the ability to transfer files in a peer-to-peer manner.

Microsoft’s automatic update services – Microsoft Update and Windows Update – infringe all four patents, according to the filing.

“Microsoft has committed these acts with knowledge that the goods and services it provides are specially made for use in a manner that directly infringes the … patents,” the lawsuit said.

According to BackWeb’s Web site, the company provides enterprise communications technologies aimed at helping large customers distribute information and other digital assets to customers and employees.

“BackWeb’s patented web and polite synchronization technologies enable scalable and economical delivery of large numbers of messages and large quantities of data to many recipients,” the site says.

Microsoft had no response at press time.

“We have not been served, so it would be premature to comment,” Microsoft spokesperson David Bowermaster said in a statement e-mailed to

Indeed, patent lawsuits seem to be popping up like mushrooms recently.

In late February, Microsoft sued navigation device vendor TomTom for patent infringement regarding eight of its patents.

In response, last week, TomTom countersued, claiming that Microsoft is infringing four of its own patents.

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