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January 15, 2006

Softvault sues Microsoft and customers over DRM patents

Posted by David Hunter at 8:48 AM ET.

The Inquirer:

Separate cases were filed against Microsoft, Yahoo and a spate of other tech firms in the US last week, alleging patents covering digital rights management (DRM) were breached by the firms.

The main action is against Microsoft, filed in the Eastern District Court of Texas …

for breaching two DRM patents. The other action against “Yahoo, Microsoft, Napster, Creative Labs, Dell, Gateway, Iriver, Samsung, Toshiba, Digital Networks, Palm, Audiovox, Sandisk and Thomson” is because they are using Windows Media DRM.

There are more details on the two patents involved by following the link, but the Softvault web site has the following description (excerpted):

SoftVault Systems, Inc. (“SVS”), a Washington-based intellectual property company, has developed patented technology in the fields of digital rights management (“DRM”) and device access control. The company’s patents, U.S. Patent Nos. 6,249,868 and 6,594,765 (“the Patents”), are directed, in general, to the remote disablement of hardware and digital content.

In the case of a device, the disabling logic would essentially turn the device into a “brick” that is unusable and therefore has no practical resale value. By conspicuously branding devices as having this self-destruct capability, device manufacturers can differentiate products based upon this new theft deterrent capability.

For digital content, presumably only the specific files are disabled. The “bricking” occurs if periodic heartbeat messages between a client and server are terminated for whatever reason.

Filed under Coopetition, Creative, DRM, Dell, Digital Media, Legal, Palm, Patents, Samsung, Technologies, Toshiba, Yahoo, iriver

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