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Palm Xerox Patent Quarrel Continues

Palm Inc. today announced that the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a decision by the District Court of the Western District of New York that Palm infringed a Xerox Corp. patent. But the Court of Appeals also remanded the case back to the District Court to examine the validity of the patent in question, which gives Palm another chance to challenge the case.

graffiti && unistrokesXerox filed the suit in April 1997 against U.S. Robotics, then the owners of Palm Computing, alleging that Palm's Graffiti(R) handwriting recognition software infringed a Xerox United States patent relating to computerized recognition of handwriting.

Xerox's input technology is called Unistrokes and was patented in 1997.

"We find no error in the district court's infringement analysis, and we affirm that aspect of the district court's decision" the court said in its decision.

In remanding the case to the District Court, the Court of Appeals yesterday also asked the lower court to conduct a complete validity analysis of Xerox's patent in question. While the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's conclusion that Palm infringes the claims of the patent, it noted that the infringement was based on a broad construction of the patent, which "has implications for the issue of validity." The Court of Appeals stated in its opinion that Palm "has made strong arguments that the asserted claims, as construed, are invalid . . ."

As a result, the federal appeals court sends the case back to Judge Michael Telesca, U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York in Rochester, for further study, which gives Palm a chance to argue its position further. In Dec 2001, Judge Michael Telesca declared that Xerox's patent is "valid and enforceable", and that Graffiti does infringe on it.

"We are delighted that the Court of Appeals has overturned the summary judgment with respect to the validity of the patent," said Eric Benhamou, Palm chairman and chief executive officer. "This ruling recognizes the strength of Palm's arguments with respect to the fundamental question of validity."

Because of the ongoing lawsuit, PalmSource decided to explore their options and commissioned studies on alternative methods for PDA data input. They concluded that Jot was the superior choice over graffiti because it allows for a more natural and intuitive method of data input. In January, PalmSource announced that it had licensed and enhanced CIC's Jot for Graffiti 2. Even if the final decision turns out in Palm's favor, they are now fully committed to Grafitti II as the next generation input method.

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Past infringement , conspiracy theories and the zire?

orb2069 @ 2/21/2003 11:19:28 AM #
Even if they switch immediately to Jot, wouldn't they have to pay back compensation to Xerox for their past 'Infringement' (Which is a giant load of horse poo. I STILL think Microsoft put them up to this - After all, wasn't MS the first group to pay Xerox for this, for their 'character recognizer' in order to use Xerox as a 'human shield' against the obvious Palm lawsuit for copying the Graffiti method?)

Tangentally - Are the older palms capable of running Jot? How much more of a system load is it? If not, how is that going to affect people's upgrade paths?

RE: Past infringement , conspiracy theories and the zire?
Coyote67 @ 2/21/2003 12:18:01 PM #
I don't think palm is going to have a large scale jot upgrade, there would be no reason to. If they lose this appeal they just pay what Xerox wants, they shouldn't have to stop using Graffiti on old devices. Also I seriously doubt M$ put them up to anything. Xerox could just be starting at the bottom of the firms that are using Graffiti and moving up. Who knows, maybe they will go after Jot next. You may notice M$ has actually lost a few cases regarding patents and is now paying quite a bit (well not by their standards) to firms with crazy patents that imho are completely disgusting. But thats the patent system in general :)

---------------------------------------
BACK OFF! I'll make you fun size!
RE: Past infringement , conspiracy theories and the zire?
Mike Allwitt @ 2/21/2003 5:17:59 PM #
I could have sworn that there is some obscure patent rule regarding systems already in use and what parts you can patent. Since IBM's patent was registered in 1997 (well after Palm's Graffiti) I would think that this would invalidate or provide protection from big Blue.

Mike Allwitt
Logic X Design, Inc Database Consulting

- Yeh, it's cool. Was it, supposed to do that?

RE: Past infringement , conspiracy theories and the zire?
TheRealTrueLuck3 @ 2/24/2003 2:52:17 PM #
I think were talking about Xerox here, but none the less, you're right. The first 'Palm Pilot' was released around '94 - '95.

-- Mike Hemmes

please provide proof of the last paragraph

ganoe @ 2/21/2003 12:10:56 PM #
I have never seen any official statement to the fact that PalmSource is moving to Jot because of the lawsuit. I am at a loss as to how Jot would be a solution to the patent issue in any case, since at least on the surface, the same patent issues exist with Jot that exist with Graffiti.

RE: please provide proof of the last paragraph
Admin @ 2/21/2003 12:38:46 PM #
The text states that because of the suit, PalmSource decided to investigate other input options. They found that Jot was a better choise than Graffiti to begin with and decided to move to that. This information was explained to me in a previous conversation with Palm Inc's VP of Communications.
RE: please provide proof of the last paragraph
ganoe @ 2/21/2003 1:22:17 PM #
So PalmSource does not see moving to Jot as some sort of resolution to the patent issues?
RE: please provide proof of the last paragraph
kidA @ 2/21/2003 1:23:15 PM #
well the patent issues with graffitti are that it is a "unistroke" handwriting recognition system. they have no patent on handwriting recognition in general or even one letter at a time handwriting recognition--just on unistroke, onel letter at a time handwriting recognition, which graffitti is, with the exception of the letter x. now i'm not defending xerox here or anything, but their case isn't necessarily all the smoke and mirrors most of the folks who frequent sites like this always say it is. there is a little substance to it--i mean seriously, i know that the legal system gets probably more crap from the citizens than anything else, but they're still not stupid. if there was truly no basis for a case, there most likely wouldn't be one. i don't think palm has infringed on xerox's patent... well, better said, i don't think xerox's patent should be valid. they never should have gotten a patent that broad. it's like if i just went and applied for a patent for "yummy throat lozenges that taste minty" and got it, then went out and sued ricola and halls... it's too broad and covers more than xerox ever actually had with Unistroke. the patent should have been for the speceific strokes used to create Xerox's Unistroke alphapbet, because they invented that and have right to protect it. But instead the patent seems to cover all unistroke (not Xerox's own Unistroke, but lower case u as an expression of general) handwriting recogntion.
Jot does not infringe on the Unistroke patent because it does not necessarily use a unistroke alphabet.

RE: please provide proof of the last paragraph
ganoe @ 2/21/2003 1:41:05 PM #
http://www.cic.com/support/faq/Pos/Jot/refcard.html

That looks like unistroke to me.

RE: please provide proof of the last paragraph
kidA @ 2/21/2003 2:00:15 PM #
yeah, the big problem is that with the exception of a few letters that you cross (like f, t, and x) and others with dots on top (i and j) our alphabet IS mostly unistroke. that's why xerox's patent is too broad. jot incorporates all the dots and crosses, though, so it's about as un-unistroke as you can get with a Roman lower case alphabet.

RE: please provide proof of the last paragraph
pontif @ 2/21/2003 3:49:06 PM #
They probably feel safer because Microsoft uses Jot, and if Xerox takes on Jot, they are taking on the 900 pound gorilla of Microsoft as well, not just little Palm.

I wonder if Jot has any patents...


RE: please provide proof of the last paragraph
Tere @ 2/21/2003 5:10:31 PM #

And in, in fact X can be written as a backwards K. So Graffiti is a unistroke system.


kidA wrote:
>well the patent issues with graffitti are that it is a "unistroke" handwriting recognition system. they have no patent on handwriting
>recognition in general or even one letter at a time handwriting recognition--just on unistroke, onel letter at a time handwriting
>recognition, which graffitti is, with the exception of the letter x. now i'm not defending xerox here or anything, but their case isn't

- Tere

RE: please provide proof of the last paragraph
Mike Allwitt @ 2/21/2003 5:23:58 PM #
As a long time palm user, I have to say Jot may be on of the worst handwriting solutions I've used. While it nicely replicates the English alphabetic characters, it is very difficult to write them in a small space (or in full screen) with speed and accuracy. With normal graffiti it's gotten to the point that I can copy large amounts of text into my palm with out even looking. I'm sure that I'll eventually have the same proficiency with Graffiti II, but I won't thank Big Blue for forcing Palm to it.
Please someone out there; come up with a Graffiti I program for OS 5. Just think of all us "Old-timers" who don't want to learn a new system, Big Bucks!

Mike Allwitt
Logic X Design, Inc Database Consulting

- Yeh, it's cool. Was it, supposed to do that?

RE: please provide proof of the last paragraph
Bartman007 @ 2/22/2003 2:23:59 AM #
> but I won't thank Big Blue for forcing Palm to it.

Isn't IBM called Big Blue? not xerox?

I call xerox CRAP Palo Alto Research Center = PARC
PARC backwards = CRAP


I too agree that the patent is too broad, Xerox is just pissed because they have let so many other ideas escape them.... Graphical/Windowed UI's, laser printers, etc.......

Peace,
-Bartman007

RE: please provide proof of the last paragraph
Mike Allwitt @ 2/22/2003 2:31:01 AM #
Your right IBM is Big Blue and Xerox is Crapola

Mike Allwitt
Logic X Design, Inc Database Consulting

- Yeh, it's cool. Was it, supposed to do that?

Not very similar

rsc1000 @ 2/21/2003 12:51:36 PM #
Looking at the images, the Xerox system is much less like the actual alphabet than Graffiti is. No 2 stroke characters what-so-ever, and wierd symbolic representations that are nothing like the letter they represent - look at 'e', 'j', 'm', or 't' as examples. WTF. It seems there whole claim is based on :

'Our system uses one-stroke characters and Palms system - although the characters are more complex, more accurate representations of real characters, also (MOSTLY - but not all) uses 1 stroke representations'

- this is lamer then I thought.

RE: Not very similar
ganoe @ 2/21/2003 1:24:20 PM #
Not being a patent attorney, my belief is that for Xerox to have a legitimate claim to a patent on Unistroke, they would either have to:
1. Claim that their strokes were designed to support a certain function (not just character input), be it the way the hand moves, that they can support better accuracy or speed from some reason, etc., etc. Otherwise, even recognition of cursive single-stroke handwriting would fall under their patent, which I find difficult to believe.
2. They have some algorithm for recognising single stroke characters that is novel.

If those are the options, Graffiti characters for the most part are nothing like Unistroke, so #1 does not hold. I have never heard Xerox claim that #2 was the basis of this patent dispute.

RE: Not very similar
kezza @ 2/21/2003 1:28:14 PM #
"Our system uses one-stroke characters and Palms system - although the characters are more complex, more accurate representations of real characters, also (MOSTLY - but not all) uses 1 stroke representations"

That's exactly what's happening. Xerox's patent is too broad -- it's for a general single-stroke character recognition system, which grafitti is as well. because of this, they have grounds to sue Palm for infringement.
If a court decides that the patent definition is too broad, then they lose considerable grounds for suing palm. as it is the two systems have almost nothing in common, except that they're single-stroke screen-input character recognition systems.

--------------------------------------
"Well, if it isn't the leader of the wiener patrol, boning up on his nerd lessons"
http://stirwise.com

RE: Not very similar
Altema @ 2/21/2003 4:07:17 PM #
I agree that the patent was viewed too broadly, but there is a problem for Xerox looming ahead: If it is found that Palm infringes on the Xerox patent, then Xerox will be found guilty of infringing on prior art by Whitaker.

Early in this whole scenario, Xerox had to distinguish it's own handwriting recognition system from the prior art of Whitaker. The two main points used to distinguish between the two systems were on the basis of "graphical separation", and "spatial independence". These two points which distinguish the Xerox from the Whitaker system is also a distinction between the Xerox system and Graffiti. Furthermore, Xerox also chose to clarify that "unistroke symbols are single stroke symbols". The Whitaker system used some single stroke symbols, but some required a pen lift, then another stroke to complete the character. Does Graffiti use some single stroke symbols, and some multiple stroke symbols like the Whitaker symbols from which Xerox distanced themselves? These three aspects will need to be examined.

RE: Not very similar
rsc1000 @ 2/21/2003 4:55:24 PM #
>>Does Graffiti use some single stroke symbols, and some multiple stroke symbols like the Whitaker symbols from which Xerox distanced themselves?

In a word: yes

read the patent before talking about this
mj6798 @ 2/22/2003 1:14:15 AM #
Look up the patent on the USPTO site and read the claims.

The Xerox patent is not on the exact alphabet, or on using a single stroke for each letter, it's on any method in which the user indicates unambiguously with an explicit gesture or action that one character is ending and a new character is beginning. One embodiment is through lifting the pen in a unistroke alphabet, but it could be that you push a button after writing each character.

This is in contrast to other handwriting recognition methods in which the interpretation of the sequence of strokes is ambiguous. For example, in Jot, "l-" seems like it might have the same sequence of strokes as "t", so some segmentation and disambiguation needs to happen there.

You'll have to decide for yourself whether that patent is overly broad or whether there is prior art. There are a lot of silly and broad software patents that have been granted over the last few years and have stood up in court--is this any worse?

In fact, I think this is what the court seems to be saying: assuming the patent is valid, Palm appears to infringe this patent, but the court isn't quite sure whether the patent itself is valid, and that's why it has allowed Palm to challenge the validity of the patent itself.

Does Xerox really want to alienate all Palm users?

Louis Berk @ 2/21/2003 2:34:09 PM #
Someone on the mighty Xerox corporation definitely needs their head examined.

What could they possibly hope to obtain by pursuing Palm for patent infringement?

I would imagine a large number of Palm owners are in the ABC1 segment and are probably involved in either using or recommending technology.

What is going to be my predisposition towards Xerox if they force me to move from Graffiti to an less than welcome alternative (sorry Jot)? Do I think I'm ever going to feel like buying another Xerox product?

No one remembers that Xerox had smalltalk sitting on a shelf for years - it wasn't until Apple came along that it was ever used. Or the mouse for that matter.

These guys have always been lame at looking after their own inventions - and now they want to punish a company and the millions of its customers over a possible patent infringement.

What can Xerox possibly hope to gain? Our undying admiration!

RE: Does Xerox really want to alienate all Palm users?
hotpaw4 @ 2/21/2003 6:20:31 PM #
someone wrote:
>What could they possibly hope to obtain by pursuing Palm for patent infringement?

The same thing almost every inventor wants: royalties for using their invention.

(assuming their patent is valid, which I have no opinion on, IANAL).

RE: Does Xerox really want to alienate all Palm users?
Bartman007 @ 2/22/2003 2:29:35 AM #
>No one remembers that Xerox had smalltalk sitting on a shelf for years ... the mouse for that matter.

SRI (Stanford Research Institute) had the mouse first. They did the opposite of Xerox with their patents. The mouse had two large cylinders/rollers for x and y axis movement. They patented this EXACT method. Xerox circumvented this patent by making the rollers small and recessed. These rollers then were moved by the mouseball. I love how Xerox can cry sour grapes on someone who utilitized similar technology to theirs, and they deliberately circumvented someone else's intellectual property 20+ years earlier.

Peace,
-Bartman007

Why a copy mechine company is suing a PDA company?

ray00pal @ 2/21/2003 4:32:59 PM #
Palm has made a great contribution to bring up the PDA industry. While their prodcuts suck when compared to Sony's, but their contribution should not be ignored.

Xerox, on the other hand, has contributed nothing to the advance of human life and now is dragging Palm's feet. How much productivity will be hurted for people to learn the new way of input? If unistroke is not allowed, I will have to make two strokes and that really suck.

Who is going to use the stupid strokes on the copy mechine? Xerox should realize that they have not, and will never be in the computer industry and should leave the leader of the computer industry alone!

RE: Why a copy mechine company is suing a PDA company?
Tere @ 2/21/2003 5:15:53 PM #
1) I think Xerox's technological contributions ARE as significant as Palms, if not more. and
2) That has no impact on the validitiy of the law suit. Patent laws are desgned to protect the little guys.

- Tere
RE: Why a copy mechine company is suing a PDA company?
hotpaw4 @ 2/21/2003 6:25:37 PM #
someone wrote:
>Xerox, on the other hand, has contributed nothing to the advance of human life and now is dragging Palm's feet.

Go back to your history class man. Xerox (PARC) invented many of the ideas behind graphical/iconic user interfaces (MacOS/Windows/KDE), local area networking (Ethernet), object oriented programming (Smalltalk/Java), WYSIWYG word processing (MacWrite/MSWord), portable computing (Dynabook), etc. etc.

RE: Why a copy mechine company is suing a PDA company?
dhibbitts @ 2/21/2003 8:30:30 PM #
>Go back to your history class man. Xerox (PARC) invented many of the ideas behind graphical/iconic user interfaces (MacOS/Windows/KDE), local area networking (Ethernet), object oriented programming (Smalltalk/Java), WYSIWYG word processing (MacWrite/MSWord), portable computing (Dynabook), etc. etc.

Object Oriented Programming is just another technology that Xerox did not invent.

http://java.sun.com/people/jag/SimulaHistory.html

Simula 67 (67 as in 1967) was the first object oriented programming language "created by Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard at the Norwegian Computing Centre (NCC) in Oslo between 1962 and 1967." Smalltalk was invented in the 80's.


--
Daniel Hibbitts
Ann Arbor Palm OS Developers Group
Ann Arbor Palm OS Users Group
http://www.a2pug.org/

RE: Why a copy mechine company is suing a PDA company?
hotpaw4 @ 2/21/2003 11:48:54 PM #
In spite of Xerox managements's failure to bring most of the technology developed at PARC to market, one can actually run Smalltalk on a PalmOS handheld.

And as with any complex technology, there are usually many contributors. (What Xerox PARC created was an improvement on what SRI/Englebert developed. What the MacOS team developed was a clear improvement on what Xerox demo'ed. What Microsoft ships is... ... oh, nevermind. :)

because they invented lots of things
mj6798 @ 2/22/2003 1:24:02 AM #
Xerox, on the other hand, has contributed nothing to the advance of human life and now is dragging Palm's feet.


You've got to be kidding. Take a look http://www.parc.com/company/">here to see all the contributions that Xerox has made to personal computing. A large part of the software and hardware you use every day is based on Xerox inventions (Ethernet, laser printing, desktop publishing, GUIs, to name just a few).


And, arguably, Xerox invented the Palm about five years before Palm. Take a look http://www.ubiq.com/parctab/parctab.html">at the PARCTAB. Not only did the PARCTAB have Unistroke handwriting recognition (that's what it was designed for), the very first version already had wireless networking. Palm almost certainly got many ideas from that work.

RE: Why a copy mechine company is suing a PDA company?
mj6798 @ 2/22/2003 1:30:35 AM #
Oops--the software mangled my links. Here they are again:

Xerox PARC inventions:

http://www.parc.com/company/

The PARCTAB PDA, predating Palm by several years:

http://www.ubiq.com/parctab/parctab.html

RE: Why a copy mechine company is suing a PDA company?
mj6798 @ 2/22/2003 1:33:42 AM #
Object Oriented Programming is just another technology that Xerox did not invent.

I'm not sure who is supposed to have made the claim that Xerox PARC "invented OOP". Yes, OOP itself goes back to Simula. Simula was a nice Pascal/Algol-like language with a new programming construct, intended mostly for simulations. Alan Kay took that idea and, together with many other people at Xerox, transformed into an entirely new approach to programming, a visual programming environment, standard class hierarchies, numerous design patterns for GUI development, a dynamic and reflective type system, and many other things.

Simula may have been the grand-father of OOP, but Smalltalk and the other work at Xerox was the patriarch from which almost all current OOP systems derive directly or indirectly.

RE: Why a copy mechine company is suing a PDA company?
hkklife @ 2/22/2003 9:16:27 AM #
Tere, as others have mentioned, Xerox's copier is just their cash cow/best known product. Throughout the 70s and 80s, their PARC labs developed an astounding number of technologies that did not come to bear fruit until years, even decades later. For a somewhat but still entertaining quick summary of some of these efforts read Nicholas Negroponte's book, "Being Digital"--it's from 1997 or so but still is a worthwhile read from a former PARC-er.

RE: Why a copy mechine company is suing a PDA company?
hkklife @ 2/22/2003 9:20:24 AM #
Errr, whoops, I meant "ray00pal, as others..." instead of "tere, as others..."

RE: Why a copy mechine company is suing a PDA company?
dhibbitts @ 2/22/2003 10:46:35 PM #
>I'm not sure who is supposed to have made the claim that Xerox PARC "invented OOP".

>>hotpaw4 wrote:
>>Go back to your history class man. Xerox (PARC) invented many of the ideas behind graphical/iconic user interfaces (MacOS/Windows/KDE), local area networking (Ethernet), object oriented programming (Smalltalk/Java), WYSIWYG word processing (MacWrite/MSWord), portable computing (Dynabook), etc. etc.

Note the part of the quote:
"Xerox (PARC) invented many of the ideas behind <...> object oriented programming".


--
Daniel Hibbitts
Ann Arbor Palm OS Developers Group
Ann Arbor Palm OS Users Group
http://www.a2pug.org/

RE: Why a copy mechine company is suing a PDA company?
mj6798 @ 2/23/2003 4:09:55 PM #
Note the part of the quote:
"Xerox (PARC) invented many of the ideas behind [...] object oriented programming".

Yes, and that statement is correct: many of the ideas behind what we now understand to be "object oriented programming" were developed by Kay and others at Xerox. In fact, Simula was really intended for discrete event simulation, and it was Kay who realized its potential for general purpose programming. Simula was like the first horse-and-buggy, and Kay and others turned it into a modern automobile and built the roads for it (except that, unlike the horse-and-buggy, Simula always remained a niche product).

RE: Why a copy mechine company is suing a PDA company?
AWhistler @ 2/24/2003 3:20:48 PM #
"Simula was like the first horse-and-buggy, and Kay and others turned it into a modern automobile and built the roads for it"

Hmmm...sounds like Xerox had the first horse-and-buggy called unistroke, and Palm turned it into a modern PDA and built the roads for it (palm.net). By your own arguement, Palm should be free from any charges.

RE: Why a copy mechine company is suing a PDA company?
mj6798 @ 2/24/2003 6:42:17 PM #
Hmmm...sounds like Xerox had the first horse-and-buggy called unistroke, and Palm turned it into a modern PDA and built the roads for it (palm.net). By your own arguement, Palm should be free from any charges.

I don't see what my point about the history of OOP has to do with a potential patent violation. Nor, for that matter, have I even defended the Unistroke patent; I think it would be great if Palm was "free from any charges" over Unistrokes, but I'm not a lawyer nor a judge.

However, your analogy is just factually wrong. Xerox had developed a PDA in the Palm form factor and using Unistrokes as its input method several years before Palm. The Palm founders must have known this work and probably seen the demos. Furthermore, Psion, Sharp, and Newton had created PDAs with Palm-like functionality (but a different form factor) years before that. I don't see any significant contributions that Palm has made to the technology of handhelds or PDAs. As far as I can tell, they don't even have a research lab. And it's not like we are wowed by new ideas or technologies coming out of Palm, just somewhat faster and redesigned handhelds based on mainstream technology.

What Palm did do, and hats off to them for that, is make a successful business out of what had been a niche product until then.

Here is a link to the PARCTAB, including photographs:

http://www.ubiq.com/parctab/parctab.html

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