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Court on NCR's Palm suit: No sale

A district court upholds a judgment rejecting a claim that handheld makers Palm and Handspring infringed on patents owned by the former cash register king turned ATM specialist.

A U.S. District Court in Delaware dismissed on Thursday a patent-infringement case brought against device makers Palm and Handspring by automated-teller giant NCR.

In mid-July last year, a court rejected a claim from NCR that Palm and Handspring violated its patents, and on Thursday, a court upheld that recommendation and dismissed the case.

NCR, a maker of automated teller machines and other finance-related hardware and software, filed the suit in March 2001, claiming its patents relate to performing financial transactions on communications networks via handheld devices. NCR's lawsuit contended that Palm and Handspring knew about the patents but chose not to seek licenses from NCR.

Founded in 1884 as National Cash Register, NCR has reinvented itself. The company now sells software and hardware such as scanners and ATM machines for the retail and financial industries.

"We're gratified that the district court in Delaware vindicated our position," said Palm spokeswoman Marlene Somsak.

NCR representatives were not available for comment.

Palm is in the process of acquiring rival Handspring and spinning off its operating system unit PalmSource. Earlier this month, Palm cleared the last regulatory hurdle in its bid to acquire Handspring. The deal, which still requires a vote of both companies' shareholders, is slated to close in the fall.

When the deal closes, Palm plans to spin off its PalmSource operating system unit as a separate company and to merge Handspring with Palm's hardware division, which will be called PalmOne.