Khyber Technologies Corp. Developing Electronics That Could Become Next Wave of Hand-Held Devices
Tuesday, December 21, 1999
Page: C7 – Akron Beacon Journal
By Dave Scott, Beacon Journal business writer
Fairlawn businessman Raj Kumar has a lot riding on his trip to Las Vegas next month, but not at the gambling tables.
He’s going to unveil the Pocket Partner, an 8-ounce electronic device that has a list of features that begs for comparison to the old Swiss army knives.
It can be a telephone, music player, calendar and personal planner, TV remote control, e-mail sender, clock radio, bar-code scanner or electronic book. And it can even link up with a keyboard and become a laptop computer.
Kumar is chief executive officer and product designer for Khyber Technologies Corp. of Fairlawn, a 10-employee company that has produced new products for industry for the last nine years.
Now Khyber has a product aimed at the consumer market.
The Pocket Partner will compete with 3Com’s Palm Pilots, Handspring’s Visors and other devices that are seen by many retailers as the next trend in personal technology.
“There are 90 million cell-phone users and 4 million Palm Pilots,” said Kumar. “We want to go after the 86 million people who have cell phones without the Palms.”
So Kumar and other Khyber representatives will attend the 2000 International CES, a major consumer electronics trade show Jan. 5-9 in Las Vegas, to demonstrate the Pocket Partner to potential investors.
Kumar develops prototypes and manufacturing plans and turns the marketing and production over to other experts. He did that when he worked for Telxon Corp. in the 1980s and he’s been doing it with Khyber for the last eight years.
His projects include developing a scanner for the A.C. Nielsen Co. that goes in homes to allow consumers to record what they have purchased and send the information back to retailers. The 100,000 units help companies track consumer trends.
Kumar said Nielsen is interested in the Pocket Partner to replace some of those scanners that are outdated.
He also developed several products for Telxon that helped the company become a major player in the bar-code scanner business.
With Khyber, he has helped Telxon competitor Symbol Technologies of Holtsville, N.Y., transfer its scanner technology for use in Palm Pilots. Those devices are used to keep track of inventory and other data that can be stored on product bar codes.
Alex Csiszar, a spokesman for Telxon, said his company also is looking at adjusting its products to fit in with smaller personal digital assistants (PDA) such as Palm Pilots.
“We certainly are aware of the PDA platform and what Symbol is doing with it,” Csiszar said.
Now Kumar is turning his attention to the consumer market and is looking for financing to turn the device into a household product.
“I have a lot of confidence in Raj and the team at Khyber,” said Mike Galluci, a shareholder in the privately held company. “And I think people will be what makes the difference.”
Galluci, known in the Akron area as a hotel developer, said investors will look at personnel behind a deal as much as the technology and marketing.
“Investors want to know who’s on the team that’s gonna run it,” he said. “That’s what really is going to make a difference.
Galluci said he will be approaching investors soon after the prototype is developed for the Las Vegas show.
“We need to work through all of the bugs that I know will be there,” Galluci said. “I think then we will be able to put this thing together.”
Kumar said he is resisting the temptation to rush the product to market, despite competition from Palm Pilot, Handspring and others. He plans to sign a joint venture or licensing deal with a company that can have the devices in stores by this summer.
“I don’t think we have to be first,” he said. “It’s much more important to be right on target.”
That means creating the right mix of features to make the product easy for consumers to use.
Patrick Callahan of Forrester Research analyzed PDAs and noted that many people believe the devices are limited to keeping calendars, to-do lists and other organization tools. “
To thrive, PDA makers must demonstrate that PDAs are more than just organizers,” he said.
“OHIO COMPANY SUES CASIO, EVEREX, HEWLETT-PACKARD, PHILIPS AND UNIDEN FOR PATENT INFRINGEMENT”
The products alleged to infringe the Khyber patent are Casio’s CASSIOPEIA™, Everex Systems’ FREESTYLE™, Hewlett-Packard’s JORNADA™, Philips Electronics’ NINO™ and Uniden’s UNIPRO™. The patent covers pocket-sized organizers having the ability to store and non-sequentially retrieve audio messages and messages entered through handwriting on the screen of the device. The patent also covers such pocket-sized devices with a homebase station for transmitting and receiving messages to and from the device. All of the above products are alleged to contain these infringing characteristics.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants’ products infringe at least eight of the patent’s claims. Khyber has requested injunctive relief as well as damages.
Counsel for Khyber, Victor Polk of Bingham Dana LLP in Boston, said: “Prior to filing this lawsuit, we carefully scrutinized both the validity and the infringement of the patent. The Complaint is very detailed in describing this analysis. As reflected there, we believe Casio, Everex, Hewlett-Packard, Philips Electronics and Uniden all infringe Khyber’s patent.” Bingham Dana LLP is a 400-attorney international law firm based in Boston and having offices in the US, Europe and Asia.
Raj Kumar, President of Khyber and the inventor of the patented technology, said: “With years of research and development effort, Khyber has created new form-and-function technology for use in portable Internet appliances. We have been heartened to see the market adopt our technologies. For a small company like us, however, it is unfair that after making such a substantial investment, we are being pushed out by the giants in the field.”
Khyber was founded in 1990 by Raj Kumar who previously led Telxon Corporation’s research and development during its rapid growth and an IPO in the 1980’s (Nasdaq: TLXN). At Telxon, he developed several market-leading products and brought in a wireless technology acquisition which was later spun-off as Aironet Wireless Communications Inc. in another IPO (Nasdaq: AIRO).
Khyber is developing its own product, the POCKET PARTNER™ unit, which is designed to serve as a wireless phone, organizer and an Internet appliance. The global market for such devices is projected to continue the 43% compounded annual growth started in 1998 and reaching 25 million units and $13 billion in sales by the year 2002. Khyber intends to produce and distribute the POCKET PARTNER™ units through strategic alliances, first launching it into niche markets and then selling its manufacturing and marketing rights to OEMs in the general
Bingham Dana LLP: Vic Polk 617-951-8000,
FAIRLAWN, OH , October 29, 1999 – Khyber Technologies has Moved to a New Location!
You can now find us at:
3009 Smith Road
Fairlawn, OH 44333
FAIRLAWN, OH , April 21, 1999 – CEO Raj Kumar and VP of Operations John Lopez travelled to Chicago for the Mobile/PDA Expo. They demonstrated the Pocket Partner prototypes during the Mobile Solutions session on Wednesday afternoon. The presentation was a success and it generated a great deal of interest in our product.
FAIRLAWN, OH , February 24, 1999 – The Pocket Partner personal electronic organizer is currently in the prototyping/debugging phase of developement. A working model and field testing are expected soon. The first prototype was shown in January at an industry trade show. Production is tentatively planned for fall of 1999.
FAIRLAWN, OH , October 19, 1998 – An interview with Rajendra Kumar was featured on the cover of the October 19, issue of Crain’s Cleveland Business. Mr. Kumar discusses his latest licensing deal with Symbol Technologies and the use of the new funds for Khyber’s next product: The Pocket Partner. The first prototype will be shown in January at an industry trade show. Production is tentatively planned for fall of 1999.
FAIRLAWN, OH , October 6, 1998 – Khyber Technologies Corporation (www.khyber.com), a privately held developer of pocket PCs and handheld computing devices, announced today a licensing agreement with Symbol Technologies Inc., the world leader in bar code driven transaction systems. Under the agreement Symbol will receive exclusive rights to twenty-three of Khyber patents in Symbol’s field of use. Symbol will also get the right to sublicense these patents.
“Our patents teach innovative form and function for the next generation of mobile computing and communication devices”, said Raj Kumar, Khyber’s CEO. “Symbol is a globally respected technology leader. Their licensing of our patents recognizes the significance of the work Khyber has been doing for future products. In addition to Symbol, several major companies have been evaluating our patents for licensing, including 3Com, HP, Philips, and Sony. I expect this to be the first of a number of significant licenses for Khyber patents.”
Khyber Technologies was founded in 1991 by Mr. Kumar who previously led Telxon Corporation’s research and development during eleven years of its rapid growth and an IPO. In the last seven years Khyber has designed and built over a dozen leading edge products for customers worldwide and has developed a sizeable portfolio of patents for use in future hand-held computers, smart cell-phones, and digital cameras. The company is completing the design and prototype development of its Pocket Partner product. It plans to tailor this patented design for interested clients and licensees in various market segments.
Symbol Technologies is a global leader in mobile computing and communications systems with innovative customer solutions based on wireless local area networking for data and voice communications, application-specific mobile computing and bar code data capture. Symbol’s wireless LAN solutions are installed at more than 30,000 customer locations worldwide and support more than 6 million Symbol scanners and hand-held computers.