In my blog post, "Motorola subsidiaries sue Aruba over WLAN patent infringements: Are others next?", I highlighted the rapidly growing list of tech companies embroiled in patent infringement law suits. Thanks to NTP-a patent holding company well known for its successful law suit against Research In Motion (RIM)-four more companies can be added to that list. NTP is suing Verizon, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile USA for similar patent infringement.
NTP is especially interested with T-Mobile's Wing and AT&T's Xpress Mail, which were specifically mentioned in the patent suit. As was the case in the RIM law suit, NTP is asking for an injunction and unspecified damages. As with the RIM suit, NTP's new actions will generate a great deal of interest due to the huge user-base that depends on mobile e-mail services provided by these four national carriers.
In their current suits, NTP claims infringement upon five of the eight patents they cited in their 2002 RIM case. Last year, NTP reached a $612.5 million settlement with RIM. NTP also has an unresolved patent suit against Palm. Many telecommunication and IT analysts wonder if NTP has its sights set on other companies.
Despite it success again RIM, NTP may have a tougher time with its cases against the carriers. According to a September 12, 2007 Wallstreet Journal article, recent patent case rulings involving KSR International Co. and eBay "could make it harder to defend the validity of patents against claims that the underlying inventions are 'obvious'" and "make it more difficult for plaintiffs to get injunctions after a jury rules infringement has occurred."
Michael Kassner is currently a systems manager for an international company. Together with his son, he runs MKassner Net, a small IT publication consultancy.