Microsoft Hit With Patent Suit Over RoundTable

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A company that develops cameras that produce 360-degree videos is suing Microsoft for alleged patent infringement in its RoundTable conferencing product.

In a filing this week with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, FullView asks the court to require Microsoft to stop selling RoundTable and to award FullView triple damages.

FullView's patent, which builds on other patent applications dating back to 1995, covers a camera system that combines the fields of view of several cameras to form a continuous 360-degree view.

According to FullView, Microsoft became aware of the relevant patent or predecessor patents in 2003, before the patent was actually awarded to FullView in March 2004. Microsoft in fact cites the patent, number 6,700,711, in a patent application it filed in 2002.

RoundTable is a video and teleconferencing device that Microsoft released late last year. It has a camera that captures videos of people who may be sitting around a conference table. Remote participants in the conference can see videos of everyone in the room, and the software displays video of whichever person happens to be speaking.

A spokeswoman with Microsoft's external public relations firm said that Microsoft has not been served with the suit and so has no comment on it.

Bruce Wecker, a lawyer with Hosie Rice, the firm representing FullView, said he couldn't reveal whether Microsoft and FullView discussed licensing the patent. He also declined to explain the exact technology behind FullView's camera technology that the company alleges Microsoft is infringing.

FullView's president, Vic Nalwa, devised the original FullView camera in 1995 while he worked for Bell Labs. He co-founded FullView with Lucent Technologies in 2000.

One notable FullView customer is David Bowie. In 1999 he hosted a webcast for subscribers of his Internet service in which he was seen interviewed and rehearsing a song. Still shots from the event are posted on FullView's Web site.

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