April 22, 2005 10:37 AM PDT

Graphics patent suit fires back at Microsoft

Forgent Networks has filed a lawsuit against Microsoft, alleging the software giant infringed on its digital-image compression patent that serves as the technology behind JPEG.

Austin, Texas-based Forgent, which makes scheduling software, announced Thursday that it filed the suit through its Compression Labs subsidiary. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas, comes in response to a suit Microsoft filed last week, asking the courts to find Forgent's patent unenforceable.

"It's unfortunate that, despite Microsoft's recent inquiries about licensing the patent, they chose to file a lawsuit, leaving us no alternative but to assert infringement claims against it," Richard Snyder, chief executive of Forgent, said in a statement.

The patent in question, U.S. patent No. 4,698,672, relates to the technology behind JPEG. The format is one of the most popular methods for compressing and sharing images on the Internet.

Forgent initially tried to sell this patent to Compaq Computer to give it a counterclaim in its lawsuit against MPEG LA. The deal fell through, however, and Forgent more closely examined its claims for still impression. The company determined that the JPEG standard, used to compress images in cameras and on computers, infringed on its patent.

Microsoft declined to comment, other than to point to its lawsuit filed last week.

"(Forgent) is subverting the JPEG standard to extract millions of dollars in unwarranted profits," Microsoft's lawsuit states.

Forgent has initiated lawsuits against 44 companies, alleging those businesses infringed on its "672" patent. During the past three years, Forgent has generated more than $100 million from licensing its 672 patent.

8 comments

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...pot calling the kettle black...
"(Forgent) is subverting the JPEG standard to extract millions of dollars in unwarranted profits," Microsoft's lawsuit states.

Heck, Bill/MS built an empire doing the same thing. Sounds like they don't like someone else working their side of the street.
Posted by smokingman_gov (8 comments )
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The difference...
The difference is that Microsoft approached Forgent, *wanting* to pay them for their technology. Clearly, Forgent saw an opportunity to milk the situation for more than it was worth. Without knowing the details of the negotiations, all we know is that MS wanted to pay Forgent for use of technology, and Forgent responded in a way that caused MS to challenge the validity of the patent. HMMMMMMM..... Either Forgent wins the law suit, or they made a really foolish move. They could be collecting regular payments from Microsoft.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
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The Land of the Lawsuits!
God it seems that every time you turn around there is a lawsuit! How about companies that patent something actually have to make a product for it?? Or how about not waiting countless years to assert patent rights, then suing everybody!

The good ol' US of A, land of the lawsuits!
Posted by Altaman (11 comments )
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Hey Randy....
I don't know from what corner of the earth you hale (or under
what rock you live), but one of the founding principles of the US
is private property rights. Without them, there is no incentive to
progress a society (ask the former Soviets). You have to admit
that the world has prospered from this notion (also held by
many nations east, west north and south of the US).

Just because technology has made the pace of the economy the
world over increase to a frightening pace, which has in turn
increased these private property claims, doesn't make them less
valid.

If MS didn't want to pay Forgent for their property, they should
invent their own. But MS's total incompetence in this area is
widely known.

So Randy, shut up!
Posted by (57 comments )
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