Visto Accuses Microsoft of Patent Infringement

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In the weeks and months before the release of Windows Mobile 5.0, there were unconfirmed reports that Microsoft was delaying the introduction of this operating system because it was worried about a possible patent-infringement lawsuit from Visto.

It appears that any nervousness was warranted, as Visto has just filed suit, claiming that Microsoft’s mobile email system violates three patents Visto has held for almost ten years.

The complaint seeks a permanent injunction that would prohibit Microsoft from continuing to misappropriate Visto’s intellectual property. The company also seeks monetary damages as compensation for what it considers Microsoft’s illegal actions.

Of course, this matter won’t be resolved anytime soon. For example, NTP and Research in Motion have been embroiled in a similar patent-infringement lawsuit since early in this decade.

There is one major difference between the lawsuits brought by Visto and NTP, though: Visto actually has a push email system on the market, while NTP just has some patents.

On the surface, it’s possible that Visto might have grounds for its lawsuit. Many of the people who originally developed Visto’s push email system later went to work for Microsoft.

When asked to comment on this suit, a Microsoft spokesperson said that no one at his company has yet had a chance to see the papers filed by Visto, and he therefore feels it’s too soon to discuss it.

However, he would say that Microsoft absolutely respects the intellectual property of other companies. At the same time, Microsoft stands behind all its products.

More information on Visto’s side of matter can be found on its web site.

NTP and Visto Team Up

In a related story, Visto has licensed NTP’s email-related patents. The agreement gives Visto access to these patents for the rest of the time they are in effect.

Naturally, this will prevent NTP from suing Visto, as it has RIM.

The two companies didn’t say how much Visto had to pay, but they did announce that NTP has taken a equity stake in the other company.

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