Microsoft's Skype Infringed Patents, New York Firm Claims

A New York technology development company said it sued Microsoft Corp. over allegations the software maker’s web-conferencing service, Skype, infringed encryption-related patents.

CopyTele Inc. said it filed a complaint today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, alleging that Skype infringed two patents for technology that helps maintain secure Web-based communications. CopyTele is seeking unspecified damages, according to a copy of the complaint provided by the firm. The filing couldn’t be immediately confirmed in court records.

“These encryption patents are a prime example of the enormous, untapped potential at CTI,” CopyTele’s Chief Executive Officer Robert Berman said in a statement. The patents have “tremendous value” that was “masked” under the previous management, he said.

Jimmy Knodel, a spokesman for Microsoft who works for Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, declined to comment on the suit.

Berman, formerly the chief operating officer of Acacia Research Corp., a publicly-traded intellectual property holding firm, said in an interview today that he was hired by CopyTele to turn the technology developer into a similar business.

Acacia, based in Newport Beach, California, controls patent portfolios, licenses them to corporate users and sues companies that are alleged to have infringed the patents. The company says it controls rights to about 250 patent portfolios.

In January, CopyTele sued AU Optronics Corp. in federal court in San Francisco, alleging the company stole patented technologies developed for e-readers. The case is pending.

CopyTele expects to acquire additional patents and file more lawsuits in the future, Berman said.

Microsoft acquired Skype from an investment group for $8.5 billion in 2011.

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