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Xerox Lawsuit Against Palm Reinstated

16 Oct, 2001

Xerox Lawsuit Against Palm Reinstated

A federal court has reinstated a lawsuit by the Xerox Corporation charging that Palm Inc. infringed its patent in the development of the handwriting-recognition system for the Palm handheld computer.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday reversed a lower-court dismissal of the case, representatives of both companies said today. The litigation now returns to federal court in Rochester, where it had been dismissed.

"It's a huge victory for Xerox," said Bill McKee, a company spokesman. "The U.S. Court of Appeals agrees there is enough evidence to proceed in a litigation that there is a patent infringement."

The lawsuit says that Palm's Graffiti handwriting-recognition software infringes a Xerox patent relating to the computerized interpretation of handwriting. In June 2000, the district court issued an order dismissing Xerox's claims.

Palm, based in Santa Clara, Calif., confirmed that the court reversed the lower court dismissal, but said that the court also rejected a motion for summary judgment brought by Xerox. Xerox said the court did not rule on the summary judgment request.

"Palm continues to believe that the Graffiti software does not infringe the patent and that Palm has other defenses supporting its stance," said Carl Yankowski, Palm's chief executive. "Palm intends to continue to vigorously defend itself." Xerox contends that its scientists invented the "Unistroke" software that recognizes one- stroke motions as characters. Xerox went to court in April 1997, four months after receiving a patent for handwriting recognition.

The technology in dispute allows users to make simple, onetime strokes to enter letters and numbers in Palm computers. If successful in court, Xerox could force Palm and other companies to pay a license fee for each of the hand-held organizers sold.

Xerox has moved aggressively to defend against what it sees as technology pilfered from its labs, especially after letting go of inventions like the computer mouse and laser printer.

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