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Palm Faces Setback In Infringement Case

by Glen Shapiro,, New York

25 August 2003

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Wednesday reversed a judgement of non-infringement which was entered in California last year in E-Pass Technologies' suit against Palm Inc., over technology contained within the latter's handheld devices.

In August 2002, at the US District Court for the Northern District of California, Judge D. Lowell Jensen ruled that Palm's PDA devices did not infringe on E-Pass's patented method of substituting multiple credit cards with a single electronic card, arguing that Palm's PDAs are larger than a credit card, and are therefore not covered by the patent.

On its website, E-Pass describes its technology as bringing to the market: 'a new kind of smart card and a new way of applying its attributes,' and goes on to state that: 'Combined with a PDA, smart phone or computer - whether desk-top, lap-top or palm-top - e-pass opens a whole new world to the user and the businesses that takes advantage of all that the e-pass Concept offers.'

Ruling last week, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the California judge's definition of an 'electronic multi-function card', announcing that: 'The district court's premise that the electronic multi-function card must be accepted interchangeably with standard credit cards is not correct.'

Experts have suggested that despite this setback for Palm, E-Pass is unlikely to be able to make its claims stick when the case goes back to the district court. Nevertheless, in a statement released on Thursday, the firm revealed that:

'With a view towards the vigorous enforcement and protection of its intellectual property rights, E-pass is currently undergoing a thorough evaluation of all products and processes that might be covered by its patent, now that the patent has been vindicated by the Federal Circuit in Washington. It is expected that E-pass will be filing additional patent infringement actions in the not-too-distant future.'

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