Ina Fried

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Firm Targets Microsoft’s Skype Unit in Patent Lawsuit

A New York firm is suing Microsoft, charging that its Skype service infringes on two patents.

Secure Web Conference Corp., a unit of CopyTele, is seeking unspecified damages in the suit, filed Wednesday in the Eastern District of New York.


Once upon a time, CopyTele was trying to make products based on its technologies, but these days its strategy is focused on trying to derive revenue from its 53 patents.

“For 30 years, the company tried it the old-fashioned way,” CEO Rob Berman said in an interview. “They weren’t particularly successful.”

Berman was part of a team that came in last year with an eye toward making money off its patents. Berman said the company believes that much of the Web-conferencing industry is infringing on its patents, but decided to go after Skype initially because of its size.

A Microsoft representative declined to comment.

CopyTele filed a separate patent action earlier this year over another technology area, suing AU Optronics and E Ink Holdings over display patents.

“We expect to launch additional assertion programs with significant revenue opportunities as we continue to mine (CopyTele’s) patents, and acquire additional patent portfolios from third parties,” Berman said in a statement.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus