Saturday, June 10, 2006

Xerox wins in latest edition of Unistrokes-wars, technology from PARC

In 1997, Xerox sued U.S. Robotics, later acquired by former Palm parent 3Com, over a patent covering Unistrokes technology, which Xerox said was invented at its Palo Alto, California Research Center [PARC]. In 2006, the CAFC reversed a lower court decision (WDNY) that rendered the Xerox Corp. handwriting recognition "software" patent invalid, and instructed the case be re-examined [again]. Donald R. Dunner of Finnegan, Henderson argued for Xerox.

In the decision by WDNY, claims 1-3 and 7-16 of Xerox' US 5,596,656 had been found invalid in a summary judgment [SJ] proceeding. The CAFC found that claims 9 and 11 were not "insolubly ambiguous" and reversed as to the finding of invalidity for indefiniteness on those claims.

Claim 1 of the '656 was directed to a system for interpreting handwritten text comprising a user interface, a sensor mechanism, a recognition unit, a display, and a character generator. Whether this is a "software" patent can be questioned. [See earlier discussion about Mike and Techdirt.]

The issue with claims 9 and 11 concerned a limitation that the unistroke symbols must be well separated from each other in sloppiness space. The term "sloppiness space" was deemed ambiguous.


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