• United States

In brief: Ripple expected from patent case

Sep 08, 20034 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMicrosoft

Plus: Verizon Wireless to buy $1b of Nortel stuff; MCI appoints five new board members; FTC says whole lotta identity theft going on; SIP to highlight VON show; Zix buys Elron.

Companies with products that work on the Internet are waking up to the implications of a recent judgement against Microsoft in a patent infringement case.

The $520 million award to Eolas Technologies and the University of California stemmed from a 1999 lawsuit in which Eolas and UC charged Microsoft with infringing on a 1998 patent owned by the university and licensed to Eolas. That patent, which Eolas President Michael Doyle developed at UC San Francisco, covers technology that lets applets or plug-ins be embedded in Web pages and interacted with through Web browsers such as Internet Explorer.

In response to the judgement against it, Microsoft said last week it will be making changes to Internet Explorer that might affect a “large number of existing Web pages,” the World Wide Web Consortium said in a statement. Technology and legal experts agree that the ruling could affect a range of companies with products that interact with Web browsers or services that rely on customer interaction through Web browsers.

Verizon Wireless has awarded Nortel a $1 billion multiyear contract to supply equipment for upgrading and expanding Verizon’s nationwide network. Verizon Wireless plans to deploy CDMA2000 1X radio base stations, switching, Passport IP platforms and other related equipment from Nortel in Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego. The agreement also includes a market build-out and deployment of CDMA2000 1X technology in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The upgrades are designed to provide more network capacity for digital voice and high-speed data services such as Web browsing, streaming audio and video, multimedia messaging, m-commerce and VPNs. Verizon Wireless has the largest nationwide wireless voice and data network with 34.6 million customers.

MCI, legally known as WorldCom, is appointing five new members to its board of directors. The appointments will become official when the carrier emerges from bankruptcy protection. W. Grant Gregory, former chairman at Touche Ross; Judith Haberkorn, retired executive from Bell Atlantic; Laurence Harris from Patton Boggs; Eric Holder, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General; and David Matlin, CEO at MatlinPatterson Global Advisers, will join the board. MCI also plans to appoint a chairman of the board. CEO Michael Capellas currently also holds that title.

More than 27 million U.S. residents have been victims of identity theft during the past five years, according to a survey the Federal Trade Commission released last week, but the agency is unsure how many of those crimes happened through technological means. After conducting a phone survey, the FTC estimates that 9.9 million U.S. residents have been victims of identify theft during the past year. The survey of more than 4,000 adults is the first comprehensive attempt by the U.S. government to learn the number of victims. The FTC’s numbers are higher than most previous estimates.

A Gartner survey released in July found 7 million victims of identity theft in the previous year, while the FTC received about 380,000 complaints about identity theft in 2002. Last week, the Information Technology Association of America launched the Coalition on Online Identity Fraud to combat identity theft online.

More than 20 vendors of Session Initiation Protocol-enabled products will join in an interoperability demonstration to show customers what their offerings can do. The SIPop booth at the Fall 2003 VON trade show Sept. 22-25 in Boston is scheduled to include a variety of products, including videoconferencing systems, phone services software and media servers.

“The goal is to show how applications can be supported seamlessly across multiple platforms,” says Carl Ford, who is helping organize the event for the show producer, “This is a significant display that SIP is readily available for people to purchase.” SIP, a real-time communication protocol, enables peer-to-peer style communication among devices on an IP network, making it possible to put much of the call intelligence within end devices, such as phones.

Zix, which provides e-mail encryption services and content filtering, last week acquired Web content-filtering vendor Elron Software for about $7 million in a stock-based transaction. The acquisition, subject to shareholder approval, is expected to give Zix more than 4,500 new customers, including Eli Lilly, 20th Century Fox, Anheuser-Busch, CVS, Texaco and Time Warner.