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Patent suit targets Apple, Microsoft over data encryption

Both Apple and its rival Microsoft have been hit with a new lawsuit accusing them and others of violating patents related to digital file encryption and security.

The complaint was filed this week by Tallgrass Prairie Management in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas, where lawsuits are frequently filed in hopes of a favorable outcome for the plaintiff. In addition to Apple and Microsoft, the suit targets WinMagic and CheckPoint Software Technologies.

The four defendants are accused of violating three patents related to secure data encryption, allowing users to ensure that others cannot access sensitive files. The patents in the suit are all named "Method for Preventing Inadvertent Betrayal by a Trustee of Escrowed Digital Secrets." They are:

Apple is accused of selling "software that includes digital data structures for storing identifying information and encrypted digital secrets." The complaint asserts that Apple's software violates Tallgrass Prairie Management's patents by allowing "trustees to access the encrypted digital secrets upon verification of the identifying information."

The plaintiff has asked the court to grant permanent injunctions against the defendants, preventing them from selling what Tallgrass Prairie believes are infringing products. The company also hopes to receive damages from those it is suing via a jury trial.

Tallgrass Prairie Management is represented by attorney William E. Davis III of The Davis Firm based out of Longview, Texas.