UK-based BTG International, Teleshuttle Corporation, and Teleshuttle Technologies have launched a lawsuit against Apple Computer and Microsoft, alleging that the software-update features in Mac OS X, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft Windows violate patents for Web-based software updating. BTG has the worldwide licensing rights to the patents, which Teleshuttle Corporation and Teleshuttle Technologies own.
Microsoft was the first major OS vendor to ship integrated, Web-based software-updating functionality; the company's Windows Update feature shipped as part of Windows 98 in 1998. Since then, Microsoft has augmented Windows Update with a Web service called Automatic Updates that optionally downloads and even installs to user systems critical software updates. Apple added a Software Updates feature to Mac OS X in 2001.
BTG says that Richard Reisman, Teleshuttle's president and founder, first sought a patent for remote software updating in the early 1990s. Reisman joined forces with BTG in 1998, and the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted him the patents last year. Since then, BTG has been trying to get Apple and Microsoft to license the technology but both companies have rebuffed that request. The lawsuit, which was filed in California, seeks unspecified damages for past infringements and an injunction to prevent Apple and Microsoft from continuing to use their software-updating services.