NCR Loses Lawsuit Against Palm, Handspring

In March of 2001, computer system maker NCR Corp. sued Palm Inc. and Handspring on the grounds that their handheld computers infringed on two NCR-owned core patents. These are for a "Portable personal terminal for use in a system for handling transactions," and for a "System for handling transactions including a portable personal terminal." Yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware issued a summary judgment, ruling that neither company had infringed on the patents.

"Palm respects valid patents and has taken licenses where appropriate," said Eric Benhamou, Palm chairman and CEO. "We refuse to succumb to intimidation by companies that use charges of patent infringement to bully others."

NCR itself has never used the patents in question, nor marketed a product covered by the patents. NCR notified Handspring of its claim of infringement in March 2000, but never contacted Palm on the matter to seek resolution before filing suit in the U.S. District Court in Delaware.

NCR's lawyers are looking at the decision and considering whether to file an appeal.

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Wollombi @ 7/12/2002 4:56:29 PM #
Why does everyone seem to think that Palm is such a cash cow right now? Their profits have been steadily shrinking, and innovation up to now has been less than stellar. So where is the money to be made in suing a company that has no money?

Hmmph. I wonder when NCR will announce $2 billion in faulty bookkeeping like Xerox...


It is not very comfortable to have the gift of being amused at one's own absurdity.
-Somerset Maugham-

Um, huge market share?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/12/2002 5:06:43 PM #
Although you're right, they probably don't actually have that much cash on hand right now.
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/12/2002 5:33:53 PM #
RE: Why?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/12/2002 5:42:36 PM #
The claim was first commenced when Palm was doing well. This may seem like the distant past, but there was a time when Palm's profit margin was the envy of the computer industry.

Another thing to think about: there is a breed of "entrepreneurial" patent attorneys who take a very creative approach to business. The basic approach is it troll through Patent Office records looking for a moribund patent which kinda looks like something which is used by a successful company. The attorney then approaches the holder of the patent and does a deal so that the attorney finances the litigation in return for a very big slice of the damages. Usually, the aim is to pester the company into a settlement before it ever gets to Court - many companies believe it is better to yield to such blackmail than to stand up for themselves in Court.

I'm glad to see that Palm did not give in.

RE: Why?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/12/2002 10:24:17 PM #
This is a big conspiracy theory, but I would not be surprised to see Microsoft's hands in there somewhere.

There is nothing MS would like to see but Palm swarmed with a law suit after another.


I.M. Anonymous @ 7/12/2002 11:26:07 PM #
Now if a different appeals court would just decide that Graffiti is indeed something incapable of being patented, maybe Palm could move on with the "art of innovation." (I sincerely apologize for the Bill Gates reference -- mea culpa, mea culpa.)




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