DRM Suit Hits Microsoft, Yahoo

    January 16, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

An array of technology companies just found out who SoftVault Systems is: a patent holding company that developed digital rights management technology, and the willingness to sue over them.

Two patents held by SoftVault form the “v” in versus as the company brings litigation against Microsoft for breaching its patent, and Yahoo and a number of other companies for infringing on those patents, The Register reported. The article listed the other companies, a who’s who of recognizable names in the tech industry:

Audiovox, Creative Labs, Dell, Digital Networks, Gateway, iRiver, Napster, Palm, Samsung, Sandisk, Thomson, and Toshiba.

SoftVault explained its technology on their website:

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.

The Patents use periodic communication between a server and any number of embedded client agents….

As long as these periodic authorization messages continue to be exchanged, access is enabled. If for any reason the authorization messages are terminated, access is disabled. In the case of software or digital content, disabling may involve encrypting or deleting files.

Microsoft gets the lion’s share of SoftVault’s attention. SoftVault alleges that numerous applications from Microsoft, ranging from Windows XP to Office to Visual Studio .NET, all breach its patents. The other companies have been alleged to infringe on those patents by using Microsoft’s DRM for protecting media files.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.