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.”

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