Visto, a maker of mobile e-mail technology, has sued Microsoft for allegedly infringing on three of its patents related to how information...

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — Visto, a maker of mobile e-mail technology, has sued Microsoft for allegedly infringing on three of its patents related to how information is handled between servers and handheld devices such as cellular phones.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages and a permanent injunction to stop the alleged infringement, was filed late Wednesday, the same day Visto announced that NTP had acquired an equity stake in the startup and signed a patent licensing deal.

Visto’s allegations against Microsoft and its Windows Mobile 5.0 are similar to NTP’s against Research In Motion (RIM) — a Visto rival — which faces the possible shutdown of its popular BlackBerry messaging service in the U.S.

“Windows Mobile 5.0 is an infringement of Visto’s intellectual property of a technology that our firm created, patented and successfully sells on the market today,” Visto CEO Brian Bogosian said Thursday.

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Jack Evans, a Microsoft spokesman, said the company has not completely reviewed the complaint and will not comment on it until it has done so.

“Microsoft stands behind its products and respects intellectual property rights,” he said.

NTP’s deal with Visto also could help it bolster its case against RIM as it can now say it is more than a company that just holds patents and litigates to enforce them. Under the agreement, Visto will have access to NTP’s patent portfolio for the life of the patents.

James Wallace Jr., an attorney for NTP, says he plans to argue in court that the Visto deal shows there are available options for customers in the event of an injunction against RIM that would shut down BlackBerry service.

Visto, based in Redwood Shores, Calif., said its clients include Cingular, Sprint-Nextel, the Vodafone Group and Rogers Wireless. It has more than 300 employees and holds 25 patents.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Marshall, Texas.

Information from AP reporter Stephanie Stoughton is included

in this report.