Forgent Networks Monday said that in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Judge Jeremy D. Fogel reconfirmed a Markman hearing on claim construction for February 13, 2006. The company had sued more than major hardware and software vendors, including Microsoft, Dell and Apple Computers, for allegedly infringing on its claim to an algorithm used in the popular JPEG picture file format.
The so-called Markman hearing - in which a trial judge hears evidence and
definitions and then determines asserted patent claims as matters of law -
refers to the lawsits filed against Microsoft and other companies back in
February 13, 2006.
Through its subsidiary Compression Labs, Forgent Networks's suit could lead
to an increase in prices for tools and software used to create and modify
images -- or even lead the industry to abandon the JPEG format altogether.
The suits were part of Forgent's intellectual property program incepted
over three years ago, and has generated more than $100 million in revenues
primarily from licensing the 672 Patent to more than 40 different companies
in Asia, Europe and the United States, according to the company. The 672
Patent relates to digital image compression used in digital still image
devices that compress, store, manipulate, print or transmit digital still
images such as digital cameras, personal digital assistants, cellular
telephones, printers, scanners, and certain software applications.
"It's unfortunate that, despite Microsoft's recent inquiries about licensing
the patent, they chose to file a lawsuit, leaving us no alternative but to
assert infringement claims against it," Richard Snyder, chief executive of
Forgent, said in a statement last March.
"(Forgent) is subverting the JPEG standard to extract millions of dollars in
unwarranted profits," Microsoft's lawsuit stated.
Forgent's critics say the new lawsuit is yet another example of how the
practice of using patents to generate revenue is endangering the computing
industry. It isn't the first time the company has been criticized for trying
to enforce the compression patent.