Thursday, December 15, 2005

COMPETITORS POUNCING ON RIM AND STAKING NEW PATENT CLAIMS: Taking advantage of RIM's woes, competitors have started to make moves to muscle in on e-mail push technology. Recently, Nokia (who is an NTP licensee), acquired Intellisync Corp., a provider of wireless e-mail service for cellular carriers, adding to the mobile phone maker's growing arsenal of products to compete with RIM.

Visto Corporation has jumped out of the gate by forming an alliance with NTP, where NTP licensed its patents to Visto in exchange for an equity position in the company. Visto quickly followed this move with securing a big contract with Vodafone K.K. in Japan. Visto has current agreements with Cingular, Elisa, KPN, Rogers Wireless, SmarTone, SFR, Sprint-Nextel, and TELUS Mobility.

Now, Visto has decided to dive head-first into patent litigation by filing suit against Microsoft in - where else - the Eastern District of Texas. The suit targets Microsoft's Windows Mobile 5.0 software, and was likely spurred by Microsoft's recent decision to bundle Windows Mobile 5.0 with their already market-dominating Exchange server software. By running the Mobile 5.0 platform via Exchange, this could significantly increases the rate and manner of infringement being alleged by Visto. Similar to NTP, Visto is seeking a permanent injunction.

The complaint cites 3 specific patents:

U.S. Patent No. 6,085,192 titled, "System And Method For Securely Synchronizing Multiple Copies Of A Workspace Element In A Network"

U.S. Patent No. 6,708,221 titled, "System And Method For Globally And Securely Accessing Unified Information In A Computer Network"

U.S. Patent No. 6,151,606 titled, "System And Method For Using A Workspace Data Manager To Access, Manipulate And Synchronize Network Data"

The '606 and '221 patents claim priority to a myriad of applications (some filed within days of one another) dating back to 1996. Overall the patents deal with interfacing clients between trusted/untrusted sites, and synchronizing multiple copies of a workspace element in a secure network environment. Some notable claims:

('221 patent) Claim 1. A method for synchronizing workspace data,

storing first workspace data on a first device;

storing second workspace data on a second device;

determining differences between the first workspace data and the second workspace data;

storing the differences at a global server; and

sending the differences from the global server to the second device.

('606 patent) Claim 1. A computer-based method, comprising the steps of:

executing a workspace data manager on an untrusted client site;

requesting the workspace data manager to access data temporarily from a remote site, the remote being connected via a network to untrusted client site;

initiating a communications channel with the remote site;

downloading data from the remote site;

placing the data in temporary storage on the untrusted client site;

using the workspace data manager to present the downloaded data; and

automatically disabling the untrusted client site from accessing at least a portion of the downloaded data after a user has finished using the data.

Visto claims to holds 25 patents, including those related to mobile access email and data systems, and claims that 57 patent applications are pending before the USPTO (see patents assigned to Visto here).

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