Phone.com attacks Geoworks WAP patent claims in court
'Invalid and unenforceable'
As we anticipated, a legal challenge has been made against Geoworks' WAP-related patent (US 5,327,529). Phone.com has filed suit in the District Court in San Francisco asking that the patent be declared invalid and unenforceable - and that Phone.com was not therefore infringing the patent. Phone.com says in its Complaint that Geoworks claims that "virtually the entire wireless Internet industry infringes the patent" which is claimed to cover "all WAP-compliant devices and services". However, Phone.com points out that the patent does not mention wireless Internet technology, and is directed towards object-oriented programming techniques. Nor does the patent mention markup languages. Geoworks is a member of the WAP Forum, and notified other members in January that a licence would be needed. It informed Phone.com that a licence would be needed before 1 July if enforcement action were to be avoided. Phone.com also says that the white paper that Geoworks wrote to back up its patent claim has "erroneous charts". In a damning catalogue of prior art, the court's attention is drawn inter alia to the 1986 SGML standard; Tim Berners-Lee's 1989 proposal that resulted in HTML; X-windows from 1988; and Smalltalk-80. Geoworks' response by CEO Dave Grannan was a formulaic statement that he was "surprised and disappointed". The more interesting revelation was that Phone.com has itself "filed a patent with the WAP Forum which covers much of the WAP architecture and is holding this over the heads of the entire industry, without announcing a licensing program in compliance with WAP Forum rules." We were unable to locate this patent referred to by Geoworks in the IBM patents database. That's strange. ® Related story Geoworks patent claim lobs grenade into WAP Forum