yesterday that Phone.com have taken a stand against Geoworks' U.S. Patent No. 5,327,529, which they claim covers WAP technology. Phone.com are claiming that: "(their) technology does not infringe the Geoworks patent, and that that patent is also invalid and unenforceable."
As the author of an open letter
to Don Ezzell, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel for Geoworks, I for one am extremely interested in the outcome of this case. My original concerns rested mostly on the subject of Geoworks' heavy handed licensing scheme, where companies developing anything utilising WAP technology would have to pay a steep licensing cost. In my opinion it's about time someone took a stand against this patent claim. I would be very interested to know whether any companies have *actually* paid up the 20,000 USD licensing fee. I certainly hope that nobody has. Donald Ezzell, Geoworks' chief technology officer in his reply to my letter stated that "Already, many small companies have contacted us, provided the information about their company and WAP enabled or related goods or services, and applied for the license."
- however I believe that here he was discussing the companies who would pay a highly reduced licensing fee for having revenue below 1,000,000 USD a year. I somehow suspect that the sort of company who would earn sufficient money to pay up a 20,000 USD license would also be the sort of company who would be extremely suspicious of Geoworks' claims. I therefore guess that they have had few, if any, full licensees.
(Any information on this would be extremely interesting).
This is the line I like in the press release - "In its complaint, Phone.com asserts that Phone.com's technology does not infringe the Geoworks '529 patent, and that the patent is also invalid and unenforceable."
Those second and third parts, about the patent being invalid and unenforceable are the areas to watch I guess. As a non-lawyer, my interpretation is that the first part is to defend their own technology, but the others say that Geoworks' entire claim is bogus, as their patent is too broad and does not in effect define WAP.
Here's the part of Phone.com's filing that the case (in my opinion) seems to hang on -
"Despite Geoworks' assertion that the '529 is essential to WAP-compliant devices and services, the '529 patent simply does not cover (and does not even mention) the wireless Internet technology. Instead, the '529 patent is solely directed to certain object-oriented programming techniques, none of which cover WAP, WML, wireless applications or the Internet. Indeed, making clear that the '529 patent is directed to object-oriented programming, and not to WAP or markup languages (which existed and were well-known when the '529 patent was applied for), the '529 patent specification reads as a "primer" on object-oriented programming, and never mentions markup languages, the Internet or wireless communications. The only embodiment disclosed is also an object-oriented programmed operating system. Nothing in the patent, the file history and the cited prior art acknowledges, discusses, suggests or contemplates the use of markup languages for any purpose, much less for use with the Internet. In short, the '529 patent does not cover WAP-compliant devices and services that employ WML. Phone.com's technology clearly does not infringe any claim of the '529 patent."
This is what we have been arguing all along and what the court should in all likelihood not take too long to realise.
What is also extremely interesting in Phone.com's filing is their claim that prior art information pertinent to the patent was "intentionally withheld" from the United States Patent and Trademark Office with intention to decieve. I will be extremely interested to hear the outcome of this part of the case.
It's a shame the case is taking part in San Francisco, as I would love to be able to watch the proceedings. Anyway, I guess we will get updates from our news sources such as Wapsight
and I will try to keep evolt.org updated on any developments.
Watch this space...