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EMC, Carbonite fight off patent pursuer

Troll kicked off the backup cloud

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It may be too soon to say that the tide is turning, but EMC and Carbonite have become the latest IT companies to beat off a high-profile patent lawsuit.

Law360 reports that EMC and Carbonite had their win on the basis of the validity of the patents.

The suit started in August 2010 when Oasis Research accused 17 companies of violating patents it holds. Oasis is a "non-practising entity"(NPE), as patent trolls are called in polite circles. Some of those 17 cases were dismissed; other companies (who must now be ruing their decisions) settled before trial. Only storage heavyweight EMC and cloud backup provider Carbonite stayed on the battlefield.

A Texas federal jury has invalidated the patents at the heart of Oasis' complaint against EMC, on the basis that the patent filings didn't fully list the inventors of the patents.

Oasis had claimed various Internet-based backup techniques, all of them listed as the sole inventions of Christopher Crawford. EMC and Carbonite argued that three others not named on the patents – Jack Byrd, Donald Atwood and Charles Campos – worked with Crawford in the early 1990s, and that their contributions were “central to the patents-in-suit”.

The patents invalidated were: US 5,771,354 and 6,411,943, both entitled “Internet online backup system provides remote storage for customers using IDs and passwords which were interactively established when signing up for backup services” US 5,901,228, “Commercial online backup service that provides transparent extended storage to remote customers over over telecommunications links” US 7,080,051, “Internet download systems and methods providing software to Internet computer users for local execution”

After securing the patents, Crawford sold them to Intellectual Ventures which onsold them to Oasis Research, in a game of pass-the-parcel that's common in the world of non-practising entities.

Recently, Cisco revealed that it spends $US50 million annually fighting off NPE-led patent suits, after it won its battle against VirnetX over VPN software. ®

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