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InterTrust asks court to ban Windows

Patent violation action stepped up

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InterTrust has extended its intellectual property infringement case against Microsoft a day after being granted one more patent centring on the secure transfer of digital content.

Specifically, the company has asked the court to ban the sale of Windows until the matter is resolved.

We can't see that happening - Microsoft's lawyers are too well-versed in fighting off such demands. Like so many patent violation claims, we reckon this one too will be settled out of court.

The case itself dates back to April, when InterTrust first sued Microsoft. It claims Windows and Windows Media Player both contain technology derived from InterTrust's work.

InterTrust has been developing copyright protection and management mechanisms for digital data for a decade or more. It has a fair few licensees for its technology, but it has yet to see widespread use as a system for selling content across the Net.

Microsoft has had more success, despite coming to the party late. It incorporated technology licensed from Reciprocal into Windows 2000 and Windows Media Player 7, and has promoted its solution by touting the ubiquity of its player software. Microsoft, of course, can afford to give the technology away. InterTrust can't, and has to rely on selling licenses. Of course, with digital content e-commerce in its infancy, it's not like there are companies queuing up at InterTrust's door to buy the right to use its technology.

The collapse of the Secure Digital Music Initiative broke the promise that InterTrust's technology might one day be standardised. Even the success of the music industry's action against Napster doesn't seem to have rekindled interest in digital rights management sufficiently for content providers to seek out of

Indeed, while it managed to report revenues of $8 million last year, it lost $56 million. Small revenues and a big loss together are a classic sign of a company that has yet to find a market for its product. Unless the Microsoft suit succeeds, it may never do so. ®

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