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Lawsuit filed against Apple, RIM over mobile internet access

Software developer Openwave filed a lawsuit against Apple and Research In Motion in order to defend its intellectual property on how mobile devices connect to the Internet. The complaint, filed with the International Trade Commission (ITC) in the U.S. Capital, requests that the ITC stop the import of smartphones and tablet computers that infringe Openwave patents, including Apple’s iPhone, iPod, and iPad products and RIM’s BlackBerry Curve 9330 and BlackBerry PlayBook. Openwave also filed a similar lawsuit in federal district court in Delaware.

Openwave said that Apple and RIM infringe upon five patents they have. These patents cover technology that provides consumers access to the Internet from their mobile devices, including Openwave’s 212 patent that generally enables a user to use email applications on a mobile device when a network is unavailable - for example, when a user is on flight and the 409 patent that generally enables the mobile device to operate seamlessly, and securely, with a server over a wifi network.

Ken Denman, CEO of Openwave believes that these smartphone makers should pay them for the use of their technologies, particularly in light of the substantial revenue these companies have earned from devices that use their intellectual property. He said, “Before filing these complaints, Openwave approached both of these companies numerous times in an attempt to negotiate a license of our technology with them and didn’t receive a substantive response.”

The company also filed complaints over three other patents, including their 037 patent, which generally enables access to updated versions of applications on mobile devices; the 447 patent, which generally enables consumers to experience an improved user experience in navigating through various pages of data without delay; and Openwave’s 608 patent, which relates to cloud computing. The 608 patent allows information to be accessed or shared by different devices such as mobile handsets or computers. Openwave owns some 200 patents that support its software business with telecommunications operators across the globe.

Denman said litigation is the only way they can defend their rights against these large companies that have effectively refused to license the use of the technologies the company invented, are using today and are continuing to develop for their customers.

The ITC process usually results in judgments within an 18-month period. Denman anticipates that a favorable judgment will lead the companies to negotiate licensing agreements with the company.