Patent infrigement lawsuits continue. Palm says NTP is dubious

It's been several months since we've heard much about NTP, the patent holding company that took mobile communications giant Research in Motion to court. Now NTP is back and it's bringing Palm along for the legal ride. Monday this week, NTP filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Palm over handheld products that provide email services through a wireless network. Not only this, NTP told reporters that it is targeting and will continue to target companies providing similar services and products as RIM and Palm.

RIM earlier this year went through a long drawn-out legal battle with NTP, resulting in RIM having to pay roughly $600 million to NTP. Because of this, many spoke out against NTP, claiming that NTP was merely a patent holding company sitting on dated patents with no intent to produce real products but rather to abuse the legal system to gain financially from other companies. Interestingly, Palm released a statement indicating similar thoughts and in fact some details about the US Trademark and Patent Office (PTO) rejecting NTP patents.

According to Palm, many of NTP's patents have been rejected as invalid by the PTO, indicating that there was no real value in the patents or that they were too vague and or common. Palm said in a statement:

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.

It also appears that many of the patents that NTP is suing Palm over, are also under re-examination by the PTO. Palm called the NTP patents "dubious patents" and stated that it would defend itself vigorously.

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.

DailyTech previously reported that Palm and Microsoft agreed to work together on future Palm products. Many of Palm's new products are being introduced with Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system. The situation now appears to be that Microsoft's own products will be affected by NTP's lawsuite against Palm -- analysts are fairly certain that Microsoft will be taking its own stance on NTP. The software giant is pushing its own wireless email system that competes with RIM.

While current details are sparse, many analysts are also expecting Visto Corp. to come out and take a shot at Palm as well. Visto last took RIM to court for patent infringement after things were done with NTP. Interestingly, NTP is part owner of Visto.

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