Apple, Google, Microsoft, others sued in email patents battle

9 Jul 2010

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A payment holding company that recently settled a US$600m case against Research in Motion (RIM) is now taking a case against Apple, Google, Microsoft, HTC, LG and Motorola over alleged breach of email-related patents.

NTP yesterday filed a lawsuit against the technology giants alleging that email systems used in popular mobile phones are illegally using NTP’s patented technology.

NTP has asserted that its intellectual property is the foundation of modern wireless email systems in mobile phones and that the technology companies are infringing its patents with impunity.

NTP was founded by engineer and inventor Thomas Campana and Donald Stout in 1992 and their patents relate to work they had done in AT&T in 1990. Their technology relayed messages from a computer to a wireless device like a pager or mobile phone. Their patents also extend to the design of radio antennas on mobile devices.

‘The father of wireless email’

Campana, who died in 2004, according to NTP, is the father of wireless email but never succeeded in commercialising his technology.

NTP, which is now owned by 30 investors and which owns a stake in popular mobile email system Visto, is being characterised by its critics as a patent troll because of its litigious stratagem of enforcing patent rights, most notable in its US$600m victory over RIM, creator of the BlackBerry.

NTP has successfully licensed its technology to Nokia, Visto, Good Technology and RIM. Licensing talks with Palm (now owned by HP) have, however, broken down resulting in a subsequent patent suit.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com