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July 22, 1998

NETWORD SUES RIVAL CENTRAAL FOR PATENT INFRINGEMENT

By CBR Staff Writer

Netword LLC, one of the trio of companies that has gone public with technology that enables web users to type keywords into a browser’s location line and be taken to related web sites, has wasted no time in exercising its recently acquired patent rights and has sued one of the other members of the trio, Centraal Corp, for patent infringement on its eponymous technology. Arlington, Virginia-based Netword was awarded the patent last month, having applied for it in the fall of 1995. When asked last month of the company was planning to wield its patent against its competitors, it would not commit to legal action other than to say that those that infringe on our intellectual property rights will receive notice (CI No 3,433). And at the time Centraal’s chief executive Keith Teare said there were significant differences between the two technologies and anyhow, Netword’s patent was very general and so would be difficult to apply. For its part, Netword said yesterday that Centraal’s is a fairly broad-based, multi-faceted infringement, and that this was not Netword merely seeking publicity. Netword said it filed its papers Friday, Centraal would have got them Monday and Netword did not make a press announcement about the infringement. The injunction, filed in the US district court on the eastern district of Virginia merely asks Centraal to cease infringing the patent. Netword’s is a database-driven system, whereas Centraal’s is based on distributed XML objects – at least according to Centraal. The suit may also have implications for Netscape Communications Corp, whose Smart Browsing technology debuted last week in the beta of version 4.5 of Communicator. Netword says its discussions with browser companies and online service providers are still ongoing, but it declined to be more specific.

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