'ERE WE GO AGAIN! EATONI GOES AFTER RIM: As if the NTP litigation weren't enough, Predictive-text technology developer Eatoni Ergonomics has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Research in Motion (RIM) in the US District Court of Northern Texas. Predictably, Eatoni is asking the court to ban RIM from selling its Blackberry 7100 smart-phone family.
Eatoni has come strong out the the gate, asserting patent number 6,885,317 almost immediately after the patent was granted in April. Since that time, Eatoni and RIM have been bickering over where the lawsuit would be heard - Eatoni wanted New York, RIM wanted Texas - and RIM prevailed.
The '317 patent is titled "Touch-typable devices based on ambiguous codes and methods to design such device" - covers predictive text entry on small form-factor keypads that emulate a QWERTY keyboard (found commonly on T9 systems). A Windows demo of the technology can be found here. Apparently, Eatoni claims that cordless phone users have been flocking to this technology and that Eatoni has licensed it to quite a few DECT-handset makers.
RIM's 7100 devices, codenamed 'Charm', launched a year ago and introduced a new predictive text-entry system named "SureType" which allowed them to squeeze a narrower QWERTY keyboard onto the devices.
That, of course, did not sit well with Eatoni, who thinks this infringes their '317 patent:
1. An apparatus comprising:
a keyboard comprising a plurality of keys responsive to user activation to generate
sequences of said encoding symbols, said keyboard comprising a plurality of
an output which selectively outputs sequences of said decoding symbols in response to said user activation of said keyboard;
an ambiguous code which maps said sequences of said encoding symbols to said sequences of said decoding symbols, wherein at least one of said sequences of said encoding symbols is mapped to a plurality of said sequences of said decoding symbols, said ambiguous code characterized in that it is strongly touch typable;
a plurality of decoding-symbol-assigned keys formed by an assignment of said decoding symbols to said keys, said assignment characterized in that it is not even-as-possible, given the number of said decoding-symbol-assigned keys.
Eatoni claims they previously alerted RIM to the alleged infringement and approached them to license their technology, but RIM wasn't too keen on the idea. RIM claims Eatoni's patent is invalid for a number of reasons, including lack of novelty.
An interesting note about the prosecution history of the patent - according to the USPTO, there wasn't even a single office action issued on the application. After a preliminary amendment, an Examiner Interview was conducted (I wonder what was discussed . . .) and the Notice of Allowance was issued a month later.