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  1. Technology
September 20, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Cylink Corp claims that an arbitration ruling has given it control over two key Stanford University patents on public-key encryption after a panel of three arbitrators, asked to settle a dispute between Cylink and RSA Data Security Inc, dissolved the five-year partnership between the two that pooled their encryption patents; Cylink says it will now seek royalties from companies that have licensed software code from RSA and are redistributing it, arguing that from this month, they have been infringing the Stanford patents, but RSA asserts that products including its software don’t infringe the Stanford patents and it claims victory in the arbitration, noting that arbitrators ruled that RSA wasn’t obligated to give Cylink a licence to its encryption patents from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In a case that could have nasty repercussions for several major computer manufacturers that have tried to restrict third party maintenance on their machines, 11 companies that repair Eastman Kodak Co equipment were awarded $23.8m by a jury that found Kodak violated anti-trust law by refusing to sell them replacement parts; Kodak says it plans to appeal; the case, dating from 1987, was originally dismissed, but a federal appeals court reinstated the suit and was upheld by the Supreme Court in June 1992.

IBM Corp is expected to sign a major licensing agreement with Netscape Communications Corp, the New York Times reported: it says the agreement would initially involve more than a million copies of Netscape’s Navigator browser software for use on the Prodigy service.

CompuServe Inc denies that it is discussing the purchase of the half of Prodigy Services Co owned by Sears, Roebuck & Co, and Prodigy also denied it; Sears has been discussing with IBM for months a possible sale of its half of Prodigy, but the two sides have been unable to agree on a price, those privy to the talks told the New York Times.

The Wellington, New Zealand subsidiary of IBM Corp has won a contract to provide a billing and customer care system to Mexico’s main telephone company, Telefonos de Mexico SA which IBM said is the biggest contract ever won by its New Zealand unit: the contract is expected to generate turnover of around $48.8m, double the subsidiary’s current annual turnover; further financial terms were not disclosed.

Netscape Communications Corp acknowledges that now the world knows that the random number generator in its browser generates its random numbers by checking the machine identifier and taking the time down to the millisecond that the application was created, it’s rather easy to crack the key, and it is coming out with a fix for the problem; unfortunately, this time, it intends to protect the encryption by keeping the way it works secret, which has cryptologists up in arms because they can’t trust an encryption system when they don’t know how it works – and one day, some Netscape employee with a grudge against the company is going to leave taking the secret with him.

Sort of thing we used to hear from Michael Blumenthal, talking about the now $7,400m a year Unisys Corp and how it was going to be a $20,000m a year company by 1992 or whenever – and he didn’t know anything about the computer industry either: Compagnie des Machines Bull SA chairman Jean-Marie Descarpentries expects the company’s annual sales to reach $20,000m by the year 2000 from $6,000m in 1994, according to Les Echos; Descarpentries said that by becoming a leader in each of its market sectors, Bull’s sales should grow 20%, maybe even twice that; the company’s shares should rise from the current 11.04 francs each to 110 francs in 2000, he added – Bullishly, no doubt.

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– o – Europe Online SA investors Matra Hachette SA and Pearson Plc are cooling to the planned proprietary on-line service, coming round to the view that Europe has completely missed the boat, and that Internet service providers will always beat proprietary systems to anything new; Matra-Hachette says it will either sell or dilute its stake

in Europe Online and will concentrate on developing products and access systems for the Internet in France.

Fujitsu Ltd has revised upward its forecast for consolidated pre-tax profit for the fiscal year to March to the equivalent of $1,714m from $1,260m, with net profit at $907m from $605m and turnover projections raised to $37,821m, the firm said.

Personal computer systems integrator Judge Computer Corp, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania is to reverse into DataImage Inc, Hartford, Connecticut, changing its name to Judge Imaging Systems Inc; Dataimage holders end up with 5% of the company.

Let’s hear it for IBM Corp: the company is being credited with coercing the rival digital video disk camps to come to a compromise: according to the New York Times, in August, IBM told Sony Corp and Philips Electronics NV that after its own evaluation, it preferred the Toshiba Corp format because of its higher storage capacity, and the thinner recording layer would make it easier in the future to change to a laser with a shorter wavelength, which would increase storage capacity even more – but IBM scientists also urged the Toshiba camp to go with the Sony-Philips technique for signal modulation, because it is more reliable and made the players easier to make.

Hewlett-Packard Co has two new printers, the HP LaserJet 5L high-performance personal laser printer for less than $500, and the HP DeskJet 340, a mobile inkjet printer featuring wireless printing using infra-red: the company says the DeskJet 340 is believed to be the indust ry’s first notebook printer to support wireless printing, and it is expected to sell for less than $300; the new LaserJet 5L replaces the LaserJet 4L, the DeskJet 340 replaces the DeskJet 320.

Singapore’s National Supercomputing Research Centre has ordered a T94 supercomputer from Cray Research Inc which Cray said will be the largest of its systems installed in South East Asia and the third Cray supercomputer in Singapore: the research centre will use it as a general-purpose national resource to support industry, academia, research organisations and government agencies, with applications including chemical process engineering, fluid dynamics, structural analysis, physics, electronics and plastic injection molding; the T90 Series are high-end supercomputers with up to 32 processors; the Singapore centre ordered a four-processor system with two processors and 128M-words of main memory, it said.

AirTouch Communications Inc said it has completed its acquisition of a 20% interest in RPG Cellular Services, a new company licensed to provide cellular service in Madras, India: the company said RPG Cellular expects to start service in October; terms were undisclosed.

Hitachi Ltd says it will complete the full product line-up of its new M Parallel mainframe computer series during the first half of 1996: it will this autumn release a lower-end successor to the M-840, followed next year by a mid-range model using IBM Corp’s new CMOS processor, at which point all four models in the series will be out.

In a move that would make Rutherford, New Jersey-based Nextel Communications Inc a much more attractive property and perhaps justify all the money that has been sunk into the company, the US Federal Communications Commission has changed the rules on awarding licences, letting them by auction rather than lottery and expanding the size of licence areas, making it possible for companies to bid for licences for areas adjacent to ones they already hold; the Commission says it plans to begin auctioning a total of 1,020 licences on November 28.

In absorbing Legent Corp, Computer Associates International Inc laid about it with a will, creating a bloodbath among Legent’s 2,000 employees, with about 50% of them being declared redundant, although some ended up filling open positions at Computer Associates; the The reductions and other cost-cutting measures helped Computer Associates cut selling, general and administrative expenses at Legent to about $100m

a year, only about one-quarter of what it had been; Computer Associates will discontinue two Legent mainframe software products, a tape management product and a system restart product; only about 225 customers will be affected, and there are competing Computer Associates products available.

Netherlands-based pay television company Nethold Electronic Media BV is launching a new digital service offering near-video-on-demand in Europe by the end of the year: it says 50 new near-video-on-demand channels will be available in Benelux and northern Europe, using digital technology and offering sport and movies, with frequent starting times at half-hour intervals; Nethold is owned jointly by Richemont Group of Switzerland and South Africa’s MultiChoice Ltd; it has 2.5m subscribers in 14 European and 29 African countries with annual revenues of $700m, and just ordered 1.1m digital signal decoders.

L M Ericsson Telefon AB reports two orders worth a total of $76m to build telephone systems in China: the first order, worth $42m, is for expansion of a TACS-standard analogue cellular telephone system which will ultimately serve 200,000 subscribers in China’s Hunan Province, an d the second contract, with Liaoning Mobile Communication Co, is to expand a TACS analogue system in Liaoning Province to serve 160,000 subscribers when completed.

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