Feeds

NCR slaps patent suit on Palm, Handspring

The Cash claims it invented the PDA

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

NCR - aka The Cash - has sued Palm and PalmOS licensee Handspring, claiming their PDAs violate its intellectual property.

Two patents are cited in the case, both of which describe a credit card-sized "portable personal terminal" used "for handling a wide variety of financial, shopping and other transactions", and were granted to NCR in 1987. The Cash maintains both Palm and Handspring new about the patents but did nothing to seek a deal to allow them to use its intellectual property.

The Cash wants "substantial" damages to be inflicted upon Palm and Handspring in punishment and compensation. It's also seeking a temporary restraint on sales of both companies' PDAs.

Palm and Handspring are the two best-selling PDA makers, at least in the retail arena, and that's probably the main reason why they have been targeted. Certainly The Cash's patents - if they apply at all - apply equally to Sony and the other PalmOS licensees, and Compaq, Casio, Hewlett-Packard and all the PocketPC partners. However, Palm launched its PDA first, and Handspring was founded by the folks who started Palm, so NCR may be targeting them as much as the companies they formed.

NCR said it is focusing on Palm and Handspring for now and would not comment on how the action might or might not be extended in the future. Presumably, it's hoping that the others will cough up royalties to avoid lawsuits of their own. Assuming, of course, that they haven't paid up already.

And well they might. The first patent, 4,634,845 and 4,689,478, which essentially extends the former, both describe a remarkably broadly Palm-like device. It can store and execute program code ("machine instructions"), "store data", interface with other systems via a "module for coupling said device with said other system to transfer data between said device and said other system". It should be "of a size enabling it to fit into a hand of said user".

"A system including a portable personal terminal which may be used for handling a wide variety of financial, shopping, and other transactions. The personal terminal is credit-card sized, is intelligent, includes a plurality of transaction totals and is constructed to be user friendly. An interface module is used to couple the terminal to other systems for on line uses." The patents also describe what amounts to an IrDA link for transmitting data.

Then again, there's nothing about a touch-sensitive display, about using a stylus with character recognition or about using the device as a personal data organiser.

As with most patent claims, there is plenty of scope for a variety of interpretations of just how close patent and Palm are. Handspring has said it will fight the case, which it damns as being without merit. Palm is evaluating the action.

Palm has been here before, of course. Last year its parent, 3Com, was sued by E-Pass Technologies, which claimed its 1994 patent for a "multifunction, credit card-sized computer that allows users to securely store a multitude of account numbers, PIN codes, access information and other data from multiple credit cards, check cards, identification cards and similar personal documents" was being infringed by Palm devices.

That suit seems to have been settled and buried, and we expect the NCR case to be settled out of court too, the usual outcome of patent infringement claims. We await the three parties to announce a technology sharing agreement. ®

Related Story

Smart card company sues in Palm patent piracy claim

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.