Roger Parloff reports on Victor Shear’s InterTrust and its pending acquisition by Sony and Philips.
In its current incarnation, InterTrust consists of 39 employees and a patent portfolio: 26 issued patents and about 85 more pending, all in the fields of DRM and trusted systems. InterTrust also has one other asset of note: a suit against Microsoft that appears to be the highest-stakes patent litigation in history. The suit’s charges give a good feel for the scope and breadth of InterTrust’s patents, at least as InterTrust sees it. The company says its patents are being infringed every time Microsoft ships its Windows XP operating system; Office XP suite; Word 2002 word processor; Excel 2002 spreadsheet; Outlook 2002 e-mail client; PowerPoint 2002 slide presentation software; Windows Media Player; Xbox videogame console; Microsoft software for servers, mobile phones, pocket computers, and consumer electronics devices; and many of the components and tool kits that Microsoft now markets in connection with its most cutting-edge “bet the company” initiative: the networked computing and web-services platform known as .NET. Understand what that means: InterTrust is seeking an injunction barring distribution of about 85% of Microsoft’s product line.