Microsoft slammed in patents dispute

MICROSOFT LOST BADLY at a pre-trial hearing on patents litigation earlier this month, according to articles appearing in the Sacramento Bee and Fortune. At issue in what Fortune calls "the biggest patent case ever" is Microsoft's allegedly wide-ranging infringement of about a dozen patents held by InterTrust on digital rights management, trusted computing, and e-commerce technologies.

InterTrust developed its patents in the '90s, planning to participate in big markets for secure digital content transactions and related payment streams. However, it alleges that Microsoft stole its technology without compensation, giving it away in many products, beggaring InterTrust. On its website, InterTrust lists 33 Volish products that it claims infringe on its patents, including Windows XP, Office (plus component products), Windows Media Player, everything .Net, Xbox and miscellaneous others.

During the Internet bubble, InterTrust had over 450 employees and sold a catalogue of hardware and software products for various secure services. Now it has 39 employees, a sheaf of patents, and a promising lawsuit. The company was taken private earlier this year for $453 million -- most of it put up by Sony and Philips. If its litigation against Microsoft is successful, one imagines it will then go after the Big Media companies, like AOL/Time-Warner, Vivendi and Bertelsmann, then e-commerce firms.

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News source: The Inq

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