Xerox to fight patent validity ruling

Denies prior art negates its Unistroke IP

Xerox is to appeal against a US District Court ruling that this week declared invalid a text-entry patent it holds and used to sue PalmOne in 1997.

On Monday, Judge Michael A Telesca of the US District Court for the Western District of New York said: "Prior art references anticipate and render obvious the claim [made in the Xerox patent]."

The patent, number 5,596,656, details Xerox's Unistroke system, a series of 'shorthand' symbols drawn instead of real character glyphs. The symbols can be recognised by software more easily that real handwriting, making the conversion of writing into text data much faster. The patent was granted in 1997, but filed some years earlier.

In April 1997, Xerox said that Palm, then owned by US Robotics, had infringed that patent when it released Graffiti, a series of 'shorthand' symbols drawn instead of real character glyphs. Graffiti was a key Palm technology and had been introduced with the first Palm Pilot.

The Court agreed with Xerox, and in December 2001, Palm was ordered not to offer products using the infringing technology. The handheld maker - by now operating as Palm and PalmSource - achieved that by licensing CIC's Jot software, the text-entry system already used by Microsoft's PocketPC OS. PalmSource re-branded Jot as Graffiti 2. ®

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