Texas Company Sues Cloud Computing Biggies For Patent Infringement

Texas Company Sues Cloud Computing Biggies For Patent Infringement

There’s an old Texas saying – “Everything’s bigger in Texas”; now, it seems that Texan firm PersonalWeb (www.personalweb.com) has taken it to heart considering its suing the biggest names in the cloud computing business – Google, Amazon, VMware, EMC, NetApp and NEC. Additionally, there are some smaller players named as respondents as well, such as Dropbox and Caringo. They have been accused of using Tyler-based PersonalWeb’s patented technology as part of their distributed computing products or systems, including content addressable storage and/or distributed search engine technologies.

PersonalWeb protects its proprietary business applications and operations through a portfolio of patents that it owns, and we are actively pursuing licensing and participation in the operation of businesses that use these patents,” states Michael Weiss, CEO and President of PersonalWeb. The lawsuits were filed in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas.

PersonalWeb’s product portfolio includes StudyPods, an educational social networking platform currently deployed in Tyler, and digital content management system Global File Registry. The latter is a database containing unique identifiers of infringing files, recorded on behalf of interested third parties. The company seems to have a high opinion about itself, claiming to have patented technology “that is fundamental for many important elements of cloud computing technology, distributed search engine file systems, social media and content addressable storage.” Considering very few have heard about the company before these lawsuits, this may be a bit difficult to believe.

There have been some negative opinions about the case online. Rich Fiscus, writing for After Dawn, mentions that PersonalWeb’s hometown Tyler “has a reputation as the most friendly court in the US for patent lawsuits” and home of many companies that are “non-practicing entities, more commonly referred to as patent trolls.”

Although Fiscus concedes that unlike most of these patent trolls PersonalWeb does have actual products, their mention in press releases may be an attempt “to create a facade of legitimacy as a real tech company instead of a patent troll.” At the same time, although his personal beliefs on the legitimacy of PersonalWeb’s claims are clear, Fiscus concedes that the company may come into money considering the court’s earlier order penalizing Microsoft $200 million on a patent infringement case involving its popular MS-Word product. I guess time will tell which party is right, or rather, which party is more convincing to the jury.

By Sourya Biswas

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