A US appeals court judge has overturned a ruling that handheld devices from Palm did not infringe on a patent held by E-Pass Technologies.
The court's decision allows the litigation between E-Pass and Palm, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard to resume.
The case involves a patent held by E-Pass covering a portable device that can store credit cards and documents electronically, as well as conduct transactions, said Stephen Weiss, an attorney with Moses & Singer, representing E-Pass.
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E-Pass believed that personal digital assistants (PDAs) made by Palm and HP infringe upon that patent, he said.
E-Pass first filed a lawsuit against 3Com, Palm's former parent company, in February 2000.
The US District Court for the Northern District of California granted Palm's request for summary judgement in August 2002, but E-Pass appealed that decision.
The appeals court decided that the original judgment concluded that Palm devices did not infringe upon E-Pass' patent because the PDAs were larger than a credit card.
The device at issue is an "electronic multifunction card", which was described as being about the size of a standard credit card in the patent. Since PDAs are much larger than a credit card, the literal standard of patent infringement did not apply to Palm's products.
The appeals court ruled that the patent holder was only suggesting a type of electronic multifunction card, not specifying the size of the device.
Since the E-Pass patent was meant to cover an electronic device that would replace the wallet, E-Pass is now referring to the infringing devices as wallet-sized, Weiss said.
E-Pass will also resume litigation that had been stayed pending the appeals court's decision against Compaq, now a part of HP.
E-Pass is seeking damages and an injunction against Palm and HP PDAs, as well as any wallet-sized device that can store credit card numbers and make purchases.
Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service