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NTP Sues Palm

Mon Nov 6, 2006 - 3:56 PM EST - By Dieter Bohn


According to this C|net article, NTP has just filed a lawsuit in Virginia against Palm.

Bloomberg.com notes that Palm's shares are already down. They also quote NTP co-founder Donald Stout:

"Though we would still prefer to resolve this issue with Palm in a negotiated license agreement that is fair and reasonable to both parties, we are filing action today as a last resort to protect our valuable intellectual property,"

NTP is suing for monetary compensation, claiming that Palm's "products, systems, and processes" have infringed on their patents. Additionally, they've asked the court to make Palm stop selling the offending products -- presumably referring to (at least) the Treo.

This follows a long-running legal war NTP waged against Blackberry-maker Research in Motion, who was ultimately forced to settle for $612.5 million. You may remember that NTP's patents on wireless email were (and are) somewhat controversial - especially since NTP is simply a holding company designed to pursue and defend those patents.

Ah, NTP, I thought we'd heard the last from ya. Instead, we're hearing you yet again: "Yesterday, RIM; today, Palm; tomorrow... THE WORLD!"

Update: Palm has responded with this press release. Go get 'em, Palm! Here's their initial answer:

The NTP lawsuit claims that certain Palm products infringe seven NTP patents. All seven of the patents asserted are being re-examined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) and have been rejected by the re-examiners as invalid. Palm also noted that the NTP patents disclose a pager-based email service that has nothing in common with the mobile-computing devices invented by Palm.

Palm has been in occasional contact with NTP concerning a license to these patents. When Palm last communicated with NTP many months ago, however, each of the patents already was the subject of re-examination proceedings by the PTO. Palm is disappointed that, after many months of silence and repeated rejections of NTP's claims by the PTO, NTP has chosen to sue on patents of doubtful validity.

Palm respects legitimate intellectual property rights, but will defend itself vigorously against the attempted misuse of the patent and judicial systems to extract monetary value for rights to patents that may ultimately have no value at all.

That's some spicy patent talk right there. I have to admit that I'm fairly worried myself given that RIM was unable to fend off NTP. On the other hand, if US Patent Office examiners have reconsidered the patents, that's a very good sign. If the people who granted a patent on internet publishing are saying your patent isn't legit, then maybe it's not.

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