updated 09:15 am EDT, Fri July 9, 2010
NTP claims BlackBerry suit validates Apple claims
NTP today said it has sued Apple, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft and Motorola for allegedly infringing eight patents for wireless e-mail. Filed yesterday in an Eastern District of Virginia court, the lawsuit claims that their creations of smartphones or mobile operating systems with e-mail support, such Android and the iPhone, are violations of wireless e-mail technology it claims to have invented. The plaintiff claimed it was spurred on by its winning a lawsuit against RIM, which it managed only after the US Patent and Trademark Office rejected some, though not all, of its patent claims.
The other rejections are being appealed, NTP said, although it didn't say for certain if it would use these to expand its lawsuits or to sue companies again.
NTP has been informally badged as a "patent troll" as, like other companies with the same label, it characterizes itself as an intellectual property holding firm that doesn't actually use the patents it holds for any shipping product. It instead relies on lawsuits and forcing royalty payments to generate its income and has already pressed for deals not only with RIM but also Nokia, Good Technology and Visto.
Such strategies are currently legal under US law, though both the USPTO and advocates have been pressing for patent reform that would block patents for obvious or inevitable technology, which in the long term could potentially undo NTP's only business model. Also, a lawsuit against Palm has stalled in court and may become difficult now that Palm can rely on HP to help in its legal defense.