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AvantGo awarded first patent

The software developer wins its first patent, protecting the method it uses to synchronize information between a server and a handheld device.

AvantGo has won its first patent, the handheld software developer said Friday.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded the patent, which protects the method that the Hayward, Calif.-based company uses to synchronize information between a server and a handheld device.

AvantGo creates software that allows handheld owners to download Web information, such as news articles, stock quotes and corporate data, from a server and then view it when not connected to the server. AvantGo's software can be used on handhelds using Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system or Palm's OS, as well as on BlackBerry devices from Research In Motion.

AvantGo CEO Richard Owen said that the patent is valuable for two reasons.

"We can use it to trade patents with other companies, and we can license it to companies that want to mimic our concept," Owen said. "The large impact will be on our competitors."

The company has 14 other patents pending.

AvantGo's strategy is aimed at helping corporations bring business functions to handhelds. In July, the company began selling its first packaged software, AvantGo Mobile Sales, after it realized that many of its corporate customers were looking to fulfill similar needs. Prior to that, the company customized software for each client.

AvantGo is one of a number of companies looking to help businesses bring desktop programs to handheld computers. Palm had hoped to buy Extended Systems, one such company. After that deal fell apart last year, Palm announced it would sell Extended's software and then later struck a deal with accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers to help sell products to large businesses.