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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

InterTrust Technologies Inc has almost tripled the volume of patent claims it alleges Microsoft Corp's next generation of technologies infringe upon, in what may be the final expansion of its already sizable lawsuits, Kevin Murphy writes.

"There are a whole lot of new claims," said InterTrust VP of business development Talal Shamoon. "We've almost tripled, or at least significantly more than doubled, the number. They cover almost every significant product Microsoft is developing in their next generation of technology."

InterTrust has brought four new patents into play, bringing the total involved in the suit to 11, covering 144 claims and over 190 "infringement scenarios", the company said. What started out as an infringement claim against Windows Media Player now covers Windows XP, Windows CE, the .NET framework, ActiveX and Xbox, among others.

"This company's sole business focus is filing questionable patent lawsuits against us," said Microsoft spokesperson Jim Desler, referring to the almost half-dozen times InterTrust has filed or expanded its lawsuits over the last year. "Microsoft is an intellectual property company that respects IP rights."

However, it seems likely that this will be the last batch of claims made, as every additional patent added to the lawsuit further delays the crucial Markman hearing, in which the judge will decide upon exactly what the patents describe under the law. InterTrust CTO David Maher suggested that InterTrust may be finished expanding its suit - for now.

The company also feels a recent license deal it signed with Sony Corp suggests its patents are valid and enforceable. The world's second-largest consumer electronics firm paid InterTrust $28.5m, plus the promise of royalties, to implement technology outlined in InterTrust's entire portfolio of current and pending patents.

"We think this is a very strong validation of our IP," said InterTrust's Shamoon. He said the one deal means InterTrust is "CFO-friendly", or cash flow positive for the first time in a while. "The deal brings in capital not only to pay the bills but also to pursue the litigation." The company expects the next major court hearing to occur in about nine months.

The company thinks other media firms will follow suit and license InterTrust's IP. The $28.5m payment is about 14 times larger than InterTrust's quarterly revenue before it dumped the majority of its staff and products in favor of an IP licensing strategy. Microsoft's Desler declined to comment on the Sony effect. Sony competes with Microsoft in the computer games market.

© ComputerWire

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