Microsoft has found its Windows Update service the target of a patent dispute, with Israeli software company BackWeb Technologies looking for a payout.

According to an article over on InfoWorld, the company is claiming that Microsoft's Background Intelligent Transfer Service – the system by which file transfers are intelligently throttled so as not to choke other, real-time network tasks – infringes four patents granted to BackWeb Technologies by the US Patents and Trademarks Office between 1999 and 2003.

In a filing with the San Fransisco federal court late last week, BackWeb Technologies alleged that their patents – filed to protect a product the company called Transparent Update – cover “unique and novel methods and processes for transmitting digital information in background mode over a communications link between a computer network and a local computer and throttling the transfer speed to create minimal interference with other processes communicating over a communications link.” While a trifle verbose, the wording certainly covers the intentions of Microsoft's BITS – and if upheld by the court, could see the software giant forced into a large payout, as the technology is distributed with every copy of Windows XP, Vista, Server 2003, and Server 2008 sold.

As if that wasn't enough, changes Microsoft made to BITS for its third revision – in particular functionality that allowed for a psuedo peer-to-peer networking system to transfer parts of updates to machines on the same subnet to save WAN bandwidth – allegedly infringe another of BackWeb's patents, this time on a technology for “distributing data packages across a hybrid peer-to-peer network.

Seeking an injunction against Microsoft, BackWeb is also claiming that the company was well aware of the patents before it started distributing BITS with Windows XP – and asks the court to triple any damages awarded as a punitive measure. So far, Microsoft has not commented on the proceedings.

Do you think that Microsoft might have trod on BackWeb Technology's toes when producing the BITS technology for Windows Update, or is BackWeb simply looking for a hefty payout from the biggest target in tech? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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