Visto sends email infringement message

A US patent ruling in favour of Visto Corporation could lead to an injunction against BlackBerry providers Research in Motion (RIM) to halt its mobile email service.

A Federal Court ruled Friday in favour of Visto Corporation, concluding that Seven Networks’ mobile email service had infringed on the company’s system, which was created several years ago. Visto hopes the ruling will validate a similar suit it filed the same day against RIM, in which it seeks an injunction to halt the service and claim monetary damages.

The jury awarded damages of 19.75 per cent in royalties of the revenue Seven made from the infringed products. This amounts to a total of about $3.6 million. It found that Seven wilfully infringed five claims from three separate patents in its Enterprise, Server and Personal Edition products.

“Friday’s sweeping decision against Seven Networks validates our claims that Visto’s intellectual property serves as the basis for this industry’s birth,” Visto Chief Executive Officer Brian Bogosian said in a statement. “There was no ambiguity in the jury’s decision. Likewise we believe that RIM’s infringement of Visto’s technology will be halted. Our case against RIM is based on similar technology, law and patents as the case we have just won in federal court against Seven Networks.”

The next phase in the court will determine if the claims are enforceable as Visto seeks an injunction to stop Seven from further infringement, followed by the appeals process.

Visto is looking to the Seven case to confirm patent infringement in its suit against RIM, in which three of the patents in the Seven case are identical to those against RIM. Visto further supports its claim with the validity upheld by the recent re-examination of patent No. 6,085,192 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

According to Visto, those patents RIM infringed upon are patent numbers 6,085,192; 6,023,708; 6,708,221; and 6,151,606.

“Based on Visto’s sweeping victory in court against Seven Networks on Friday, RIM must understand that there is no place in the mobile email space for this sort of behaviour,” Bogosian said. “Under the law, which protects consumers from products that contain infringing technology, RIM should not be able to sell the BlackBerry system.”

RIM commented on the action in a statement, saying, “RIM has been monitoring Visto’s litigation against other companies in the industry and, based on prior art and actual products in market, RIM believes Visto’s patents are invalid. Further, Visto’s patent claims as directed against Seven Networks refer to a different type of system than RIM’s technology. RIM believes it does not infringe Visto’s patents and will file its legal response in due course. In addition to challenging validity and infringement, RIM will now also consider asserting its own patents against Visto.

“RIM is fully prepared and equipped to deal with the matter and will continue to disclose material information as it becomes available. RIM does not expect its customers to be impacted by Visto’s complaint and, given the status of Visto’s current litigation with other companies, it is unlikely that any material court proceedings in this litigation could begin prior to the middle of calendar 2007.”