AT&T Sends Letters About Its Computer Windowing Patent

The Associated Press

February 26, 1991

NEW YORK -- American Telephone & Telegraph Co. said Tuesday it has notified various computer companies recently that they may be using its patented computer windowing technology and should be paying licensing fees.

Windowing technology allows computers to display several programs at once in separate "windows," or boxes, on the screen. It was popularized by Apple Computer Inc.'s Macintosh and since has been added to International Business Machines Corp. models and compatibles through such software as Microsoft Corp.'s Windows.

AT&T's Bell Labs received a patent in 1985 for windowing technology. It recently sent letters to "a number of companies" believed to be using the technology, "basically calling their attention to the patent and asking them if they would please call us and discuss licensing arrangements," said Bell Labs spokeswoman Marianne Carlton.

"AT&T has been talking to various companies about this for several years," she said.

She said the effort was not an attempt to limit use of the technology but rather to license it, and in return receive fees from users.

She declined to identify the companies that were contacted.

The patent covers the broad concept of allowing more than one program to appear simultaneously on a computer screen and the capability of the computer to update one of the programs even when the window containing it is obscured, said Al Herron, a patent official at Bell Labs. That appears to indicate almost all windowing software would be affected.


Copyright 1991. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.