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IP firm sued, settled with Novell on different patent in August

The IP firm that filed patent litigation against Red Hat and Novell mounted legal threats against many other U.S.

The IP firm that filed patent litigation against Red Hat and Novell mounted legal threats against many other U.S. software companies in 2007 including Oracle, SAP, Computer Associates, EMC, Adobe, Autodesk, Apple, SPSS -- and Novell.

That’s right. In late August, the Newport Beach, Calif. –based Acacia Technology Licensing' subsidiary Disc Link Corp. entered into a licensing agreement with Novell covering patents related to portable storage devices with links to the Internet.

That deal settled litigation pending against Novell in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Oracle signed a similar agreement with Acacia less than a week later. A Novell spokesman confirmed the case was settled in August but declined to specify the Novell product or products at issue. “We didn't go into details publicly on the agreement with Acacia,” said Bruce Lowry, a Novell spokesman. “I don't really have any on the more specifics on it.”

Oracle signed a similar agreement with Acacia less than a week later.

Since January, Acacia's Disc Link subsidiary has entered into agreements with more than 10 companies related to that technology, which links software sold on CDs or DVDs to data on the Internet –used daily by millions for downloading software updates, user manuals and other files.

On October 18, Acacia’s Disc Link signed another licensing agreement with Chicago, Ill. SPAA, a provider of predictive analytics software.

Acacia's claim against Novell and Red Hat is a lot different.

On October 9, IP Innovation LLC, another subsidiary of Acacia's Technology Licensing arm filed a patent infringement case against Novell and Red Hat, alleging misuse and unlawful distribution of technology related to patent No. 5,072,412.

It pertains to the Windowing system used in leading Linux distributions Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and Desktop. ( the patent covers technology described as “User Interface with Multiple Workspaces for Sharing Display System Objects" and prang from, where else, but Xerox PARC)

The case was formally on behalf of IP Innovation by Thomas “Johnny” Ward, a noted personal injury lawyer in Texas who expanded his Longview, Texas practice in recent years to capitalize on the IP gold rush. Ward declined to return several phone calls.

It seems apparent, however, that Acacia’s legal minds, including two former high-level Microsoft IP experts – will oversee the details.

Some reports claim that IP Innovation filed a similar case against Apple but neither Apple nor Acacia returned repeated calls to comment on the matter.

It’s unclear how many more companies IP Innovation can target but Acacia – with more than 75 patent portfolios – is a force to reckon with in the technology industry.

Among Acacia's holdings: desktop virtualization, video editing, parallel processing for shared memory (ie multicore technology) , wireless messaging, computer graphics, database access, flash memeory and peer-to-peer communications.

While some disregard such firms as patent trollers, others say they ensure that innovative companies get compensated for their work -- for a hefty sum.