Middleware Makers Are Sued Over Server Patents
July 28, 2008 Timothy Prickett Morgan
As we are all well aware, patent laws can be as much of a problem for innovation as they can be a boon for it. A patent is only as good as the clerk’s understanding of the technology field they are issuing patents for, and unfortunately, not everyone can be as smart as Albert Einstein, perhaps the smartest patent clerk in the world.
This is how we get into the situation that we see from time to time in the information technology racket: a small and obscure company holds patents that seem to apply to a broad line of technologies, and when its products fail in the market, they result to lawsuits to make money. Such seems to be the case with Implicit Networks, a tech company based in Seattle, Washington, that has launched another wave of lawsuits against some of the biggest names in IT.
According to a report in the Bloomberg news service, Implicit Networks has launched lawsuits against IBM, Oracle, SAP, and Adobe Systems, contending that their respective middleware software stacks violate two patents held by Implicit Networks. (You can read the suit against IBM at this link on the Justia.com site.) The lawsuits were launched on July 15 and filed in U.S. Federal Court in the Washington Western District, which is based in Seattle, with Justice Brian Tsuchida presiding over the case. Implicit Networks accuses IBM’s WebSphere, SAP’s Netweaver, Oracle’s Application Server and WebLogic, and Adobe’s JRun and ColdFusion middleware of violating two patents relating to acceleration of security-related protocols in conjunction with middleware. Implicit Networks is seeing royalty payments.
In February, Implict Networks filed a similar lawsuit against Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, nVidia, Sun Microsystems, RealNetworks, and Raza Microelectronics, alleging that they are violating a patent related to packet-based communications for multiplexed data.
For its part, Implicit Networks may have made a lot of noise back in 1996 when it was founded or back in the dot-com days as technology was all the rage, but I don’t recall ever talking to the company. The firm’s sole Web page explains a little bit about the technology that it has developed, however, and it sounds like the definition of the Web 2.0 environment as far as I can see–and seems equally vague, too. The company claims to have invented an “operating environment for service oriented and connected devices,” which runs on Linux, uClinux (am embedded variant of Linux for micro controllers), Windows CE, Windows XP, and FreeBSD Unix, something that has been subsequently used in residential gateways, set-top boxes, media players, and home control systems.