On Monday of this week, Microsoft filed a patent infringement suit against Robocast alleging infringement of the 6,632,248 patent, which covers customization of network documents. Robocast, a New York based company, enables users to see more web pages, more easily and turns the act of browsing into an automated, interactive experience.
The 6,632,248 patent covers the customization of network documents by accessing customization information on a server computer using unique user. User-selected customization information for a network (e.g., HTML) document is stored at a server with reference to user identifying information that uniquely identifies the user. Whenever the user navigates back to the network address of the HTML document, the user is identified automatically and receives a customized HTML document formed in accordance with the customization information. This invention allows HTML sites to customize their site to a user's preferences based on previous visits to a website. Not a bad idea in today's multi-platform world where web site viewing problems are common.
The value of the 6,632,248 patent is proportional to the e-commerce industry. According to research firm IDC, the size of total worldwide e-commerce, when global business-to-business and consumer transactions are added together, will equate to $16 trillion in 2013. IDate, another research firm, estimates the global market for digital products and services at $4.4 trillion in 2013. A report by Oxford Economics adds those two together to estimate the total size of the digital economy at $20.4 trillion, equivalent to roughly 13.8% of global sales.
What is the motivation for this lawsuit? Microsoft, the 800 pound gorilla, is obviously protecting its patent and its share of the worldwide e-commerce industry, which it routinely does by keeping a close eye on firms of any size that may pose a threat to their market share. Robocast, which has a single U.S. Patent No. 7,155,451 and other patents pending, may be validated by this lawsuit as it may indicate Robocast is on to something big enough - customization of internet searches - to attract Microsoft's attention. Thus, this lawsuit could affect Robocast's value both negatively, as well as positively,
In Microsoft's favor is the statistic that most patent cases (75.5%, to be exact) settle. When cases do go to final judgment, and almost 15% do, patentees win 989 out of 3,043, or 32.5%, of those cases. Thus, when you look at the general statistics, there is a good chance that Microsoft can either settle this case, or obtain a final judgment in its favor. Of course, these statistics can also be viewed as weighing in Robocast's favor, since it would be to their benefit, as Defendants, to settle this case and continue operating its business.