Skype vs. Via Vadis Controlling GmbH: 1:0

Authors: Birute Dauderiene, Patent Consultant at METIDADr. Jacekas AntulisAssociated Partner, Head of Patent Division at METIDA

skypeSkype is becoming more popular due to its additional services consisting of video conferences, instant messaging and file transfer. P2P (peer-to-peer) network model has been also installed in the programme which is the opposite to the client-server system where information sharing occurs directly among the users. In May 2011, Microsoft Corporation bought Skype Communications for USD8.5bn and acquired the right to manage all corporation’s technologies, including Skype.

Via Vadis Controlling GmbH possess exclusive rights for US and European patents which are related to data protection and management.

In 2011, company Via Vadis Controlling GmbH filed a claim in Germany stating that the Internet calling software programme Skype infringed European patent EP1151591 which is related with data access and management system. The purpose of the invention is that the data are kept in several different data storage places. This optimises the access to the data. Via Vadis can be considered to be a non-practising entity (NPE), since the company purchases and licenses patents but does not make the product.

On 8th January, 2013 Düsseldorf District Court made an announcement that skype did not infringe Via Vadis patent and indicated that in Skype system the data are not distributed among data storing devices. Via Vadis representatives state that they are still considering filing an appeal and a proof that they are seeking to prohibit the usage of patent for a reason. The company categorically refuses to be considered as an NPE because their patent is significant and it is used in the programming software systems.

Meanwhile Microsoft representatives who in 2011 bought Skype state that this decision is right and that it is an unsuccessful effort of Via Vadis that do not have their own product to benefit at the expense of Skype.

During the analysis of patent infringement case, NPE status of Via Vadis was emphasised. According to German judges, the technology and laws are being concentrated on during case analyses where patents were infringed. Meanwhile secondary circumstances such as NPE or who filed the application about patent’s infringement are not important.

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