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Patent suit aims at Microsoft's XP, .Net

InterTrust expands its patent infringement suit against Microsoft, targeting its forthcoming Windows XP operating system and .Net initiative.

A digital rights management company has expanded its patent infringement suit against Microsoft, targeting its forthcoming Windows XP operating system and .Net initiative.

The Gatekeeper:
Windows XP InterTrust Technologies, which makes software that protects songs and videos from being illegally copied, said Thursday that it has added three patents to its lawsuit against Microsoft. The new filing alleges that the software giant's .Net framework and features of Windows XP, Office XP and other products infringe on InterTrust technology patents.

"In the early '90s, InterTrust thought about and filed patents on how you do trust management in a distributed environment like the Internet," said Ed Fish, president of InterTrust's MetaTrust Utility Division. "As Microsoft is now moving into it, they're adopting that very technology, and it's important that they respect our rights."

Microsoft has responded to InterTrust's filings by denying its claims and turning the tables on the anti-piracy company, saying last month that it infringed on two of the software giant's patents.

"It's clear from the filing and how they refer to the .Net infrastructure that this is yet another fishing expedition by InterTrust," Jim Desler, a spokesman for Microsoft, said Thursday. "They provide no indication in their filing that they have the slightest notion of what .Net is about. Microsoft is an intellectual property company and respects the intellectual property rights of others."

The lawsuit comes as record labels and movie studios step up efforts to protect content online. Microsoft has been making aggressive efforts to attract the interest of the film and music industries by embedding anti-piracy technology in its media player and Windows operating system.

Microsoft and Santa Clara, Calif.-based InterTrust have been embroiled for several months in a legal dispute over anti-piracy technology. The latest filing, made in a San Francisco court, focuses on a patent InterTrust received in June for a method of transferring digital content. InterTrust has made seven patents a part of its suit against Microsoft.

InterTrust said the lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of financial damages as well as an injunction prohibiting further infringements, such as Microsoft's distribution of numerous application, server and operating-system products.

Microsoft's .Net will allow people to access information via the Internet, such as e-mail, calendars and important files, regardless of the type of device they are using. Windows XP, the first major public step in the .Net initiative, is set to be released Oct. 25.