Palm Loses Graffiti Lawsuit
Palm Inc. and 3Com have lost a patent lawsuit with Xerox. A judge ruled today that Graffiti does infringe on a patent Xerox holds on a handwriting recognition method, called Unistrokes.
The lawsuit will now move on the the penalty phase. The court will decide if Palm has to pay damages and if it is allowed to continue to use the technology. Xerox will urge the court to either require Palm to stop using Graffiti entirely or pay royalties.
Update: Palm has just announced that it will appeal this ruling. "We assert that the Graffiti handwriting technology does not infringe the Xerox patent and that Palm has strong arguments to support its defense," said Eric Benhamou, chairman and CEO. "Palm will defend itself vigorously and does not intend for this litigation to affect its business strategy or business model nor that of its licensees."
Xerox sued U.S. Robotics, which was later bought by 3Com, back in 1997, claiming that Graffiti infringed a patent Xerox received in 1997. Palm was later spun off from 3Com.
Xerox originally filed for its patent in October of 1993. The first handhelds running the Palm OS, the Pilot 1000 and Pilot 5000, were released in April of 1996 by U.S. Robotics. These included Graffiti. A question not yet answered is why Jeff Hawkins didn't file for a patent on Graffiti earlier when he had been developing the idea since the 80s.
In June of last year, a judge dismissed the suit on the grounds that Graffiti wasn't similar enough to Unistrokes. In October, the suit was reinstated and moved to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York
Judge Michael Telesca declared today that Xerox's patent is "valid and enforceable", and that Graffiti does infringe on it.
It is not yet known whether Xerox plans to sue other makers of handheld operating systems, like Microsoft, who also include some form of handwriting recognition.
"Xerox always aggressively defends its patent portfolio -- a valuable corporate asset. Today's ruling vindicates our position that our handwriting-recognition patent was infringed. Either Palm will have to cease production of its hand-held organizer or license the technology from Xerox," said Christina Clayton, Xerox general counsel.
Thanks to montyburns and Dennis for the tips. -Ed
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