US firms to fight HTML 'patent troll' in court

The New York Times is one of a number of high-profile US firms to take issue with SMS HTML creator.

Gavel on keyboard

The New York Times (NYT) is spearheading a group of companies, including CBS and clothing brand jcpenney, in a court case against the inventor of HTML link technology in SMS text messages.

The Associated Press reports that Helferich Patent Licensing (HPL), the company credited with inventing the technology in 1997, is suing the NYT and its co-defendants for infringing its intellectual property.

However, the defence has responded by claiming the technology should be free to use.

The NYT's counsel, Kenneth Richieri, said he wants to prevent Helferich's patents becoming a burden on activities that are commonplace in the digital age.

"In some ways, it is a tax for being on the internet. Millions and millions of dollars collectively is going out of the pockets of people who earned it to people who, in my opinion, did not do anything," said Richieri.

HPL has launched 23 patent infringement suits since 2008 an average of almost 6 claims per year, or one every two months.

The frequency of the claims, coupled with the fact HPL offers companies the chance to settle out of court by paying a one-off fee of $750,000 (474,179), has led some industry watchers to label Helferich a patent troll'.

The NYT is fighting the case in both the US Patent and Trademark Office and in the courts, and it could take up to 18 months to complete.

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