SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Mobile e-mail start-up Visto Corp. has sued Microsoft Corp. for allegedly infringing on three of its patents related to how information is handled between servers and handheld devices such as cellphones.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages and a permanent injunction to stop the infringement, was filed late Wednesday -- the same day Visto disclosed that NTP Inc. had acquired an equity stake in the start-up and signed a patent licensing deal.
Visto's allegations against Microsoft and its Windows Mobile 5.0 are similar to NTP's against Research In Motion Ltd., which now faces the possible shutdown of its popular BlackBerry messaging service in the United States.
''Windows Mobile 5.0 is an infringement of Visto's intellectual property of a technology that our firm created, patented and successfully sells on the market today," Visto chief executive Brian Bogosian said yesterday.
Jack Evans, a Microsoft spokesman, said the company had not been served with the lawsuit as of yesterday morning.
Visto claims Microsoft, as portable devices handle more e-mail, is making matters worse by bundling its Windows Mobile operating system with its market-leading Exchange e-mail server.
NTP's deal with Visto also could help it bolster its case against RIM as it can now say it is more than a company that just holds patents and litigates to enforce them. Under the agreement, Visto will have access to NTP's patent portfolio for the life of the patents.
Visto, based in Redwood Shores, Calif., said its clients include Cingular, Sprint-Nextel, the Vodafone Group and Rogers Wireless. It has more than 300 employees and holds 25 patents.
The lawsuit was filed in US District Court in Marshall, Texas.