NCR Sues Palm and Handspring

Earlier this week, computer system maker NCR Corp. sued Palm Inc. and Handspring Inc., 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.'' They were both granted in 1987.

The papers filed said, in part, "Palm and Handspring knew about the NCR patents; however, they chose not to seek licenses from NCR.'' The company asked for a jury trial and demanded compensatory and actual damages. They also asked that both Palm and Handspring be blocked from producing any more of the infringing devices.

Palm had no comment on the suit. A Handspring representative said his company is working with Palm to defend against it. "The claims are without merit," he said.

No lawsuits were filed against other handheld computer makers, like Compaq or Casio. Asked if NCR planned to expand its complaint to include other handheld device makers, an NCR spokesman said, "for now the complaint pertains directly to Palm and Handspring, and we don't want to speculate beyond what is contained in the complaint.''

Founded in 1884 as National Cash Register, NCR now sells software and hardware such as scanners and ATM machines for the retail and financial industries.

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NCR Patent Claim a Little Spurious and Suspicious

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/17/2001 9:57:59 AM #
One wonders why NCR just suddenly realized what Palm and Handspring are doing--both product lines have been on the market for a few years now. Did someone at NCR just wake up and realize a patent infringement had occurred, or are they just working with/for the competition (Windows CE)?

I thought patents referred to actual products and their protocols, not just product concepts.

RE: NCR Patent Claim a Little Spurious and Suspicious
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/17/2001 11:29:41 AM #
NCR can sue for anything they want. That doesn't mean they'll win. It sounds pretty weak to me.

RE: NCR Patent Claim a Little Spurious and Suspicious
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/17/2001 11:45:18 AM #
Woah! I see Bill Gates' shadow...

RE: NCR Patent Claim a Little Spurious and Suspicious
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/17/2001 1:30:43 PM #
I believe that the patent laws state that you must defend your patents in every case.

I wonder if it's actually too late for NCR. I'd bet that they missed their opportunity to do this. Palm hasn't exactly been hiding in the closet.

The funny thing is this: if this is real,I bet several NCR executives are using their patented technology with the Palm logo on it.

RE: NCR Patent Claim a Little Spurious and Suspicious
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/17/2001 10:33:45 PM #
Really makes you wonder, if they are suing as part of a
smear campaign against the biggest hands in the Palm OS?
Or if they got worried about the prospective barcode scanners
that are listed as future SD devices for the palm m505? The claim
against the handheld manufacturer sounds weak, maybe it includes
add-ons? Or maybe a smear at the beginning of an advertising
blitz. Think of all the free publicity they could get by just filing a
simple motion in the middle of the month when palm and friends are announcing
new products for the year. Probably just a way a staying in the headlines
while palm announces new products. Pretty low-but who is really surprised?

NCR very close to Microsoft

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/17/2001 12:49:11 PM #
NCR is giving a close business partner a boost. This is
not surprising since NCR has been struggling. One way
out of their problems is that they are trying very hard
to build close ties to Microsoft. The two are in the
process of developing a number of high profile projects

nature of patents.

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/17/2001 2:44:08 PM #
Patent Lawyers out there please comment.

The term Patent refers to a device and/or process, not a concept. Right ? So if I create X type of Ice cream maker using Y process and Patent it I own the 'Rights'
to the process Y and the machine X not the concept of a machine that makes ice cream. Right ?

So then how does NCR a cash register maker plan to argue the portable terminal basis, When we all know the Palm is a portable Computer.

also the fact that NCR and Microsoft are let's say good friends is considered suspect. AND CE devices are not included in the suite. Hmmm....

How old is this Patent anyways ?

RE: nature of patents.
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/18/2001 12:38:06 PM #
This reminds me of when CDROMS first became popular. Early adopters bought a "multi-media kit" which included a CDROM drive and controller.

Around this time here comes (was it?) Compton's World Book Encyclopaedia saying they had a patent on bundling text, sound, and video in a software product and putting it on a CD, and anyone else who did the same must pay them patent licensing fees.

I knew that suit would go nowhere.

And remember when the main picture standard everywhere was gif? Here comes compuserve to say that everyone using gif must pay them licensing fees. That's when everyone said goodbye to gif and hello to jpg.

And how about Apple sueing Microsoft over Windows gui when Apple had borrowed the idea from Palo Alto Research Center.

I agree this current NCR suit is all about a 'concept' which is too vague to be enforced.

David somewhere in Austin, TX

whazzup NCR?

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/17/2001 10:05:07 PM #
NCR must suddenly need a lot of money and some bean-counter lawyer must have dreamed this flimsy scheme up. Heck even if they had the technology could NCR have really cooked up the palm? and even if they did, who'd want a handheld cash register? sound stupid to me
RE: whazzup NCR?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/18/2001 12:38:36 AM #
There actually is a product out there that NCR could legitimately sue for patent infringement. It looks remarkably similar to the description in their patent, and the functionality is identical:

While the whole suit is rediculous, the fact that it is asking for an injunction to stop production of the models is highly suspicious. I wonder if an investigation would reveal some involvement on the part of Microsoft, since they (and the manufacturers of PowerPC products) are the only ones to benefit from it. Even NCR doesn't gain anything, because they have no competing product on the market, and stopping production would mean that they would get less money if a judge were to side with them on the issue of compensatory damages.

NCR has released a device years ago!

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/18/2001 11:04:14 AM #
I'm sorry, but NCR has also released a device called "NCR system 3125" a few years ago. It had a 11 or so inch screen and was equipped with a 20 MB HD. If you attach an additional docking bar you get ports for a VGA screen, keyboard, serial port and a parallel port. It was running Microsoft Windows for Pen Computing. The input device was a pen which is a little bit larger then the stylus.

Of course the NCR 3125 is to large and to heavy to be carried around all the time. I think its weight is about 2 pounds and the size is about 20x30x2 cm. But
the basic concepts are similar to the palm concepts.

The NCR 3125 was the first time I got in touch with penbased computers. I still have it around somewhere. But of course - I love my Palm.



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