John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Openwave Banks on Mobile Patents, Sues Apple and RIM

There’s a new combatant in the mobile patent wars. Openwave Systems today filed complaints with the International Trade Commission against Apple and Research In Motion, alleging infringement of five patents it claims are “foundational to the mobile Internet” (see list below). Targeted in the suit: Apple’s entire line of iOS devices and RIM’s BlackBerry Curve 9330 and BlackBerry PlayBook. Openwave is asking the ITC for an import ban on them all.

“Before filing these complaints, we approached both of these companies numerous times in an attempt to negotiate a license of our technology with them and did not receive a substantive response,” Openwave CEO Ken Denman said in a statement. “In the end, litigation is the only way we can defend our rights against these large companies that have effectively refused to license the use of the technologies we invented.”

But more than a defense of Openwave’s rights, it’s also a great way to market the company’s IP in the current bull market for mobile patents. And, in the end, that may well be what these suits are really about.

Sources say Openwave, whose share price has fallen from $602 to $1.80 in the last decade, has been looking to cash in on these patents for a while now. Indeed, just two days ago the company secured uncontested ownership of a number of them after a legal spat with Myriad, which believed it had claims to some of them. It paid $12 million in cash to Myriad for the privilege.

And now here it is suing two of the biggest names in the smartphone industry to monetize them. OpenWave says its legal position is very strong and the licensing fees due it are substantial. It better hope so, because litigating in the ITC is a very costly endeavor.

Apple and RIM both declined comment on the complaints.

Openwave has accused Apple and RIM of infringing these five patents:

  • Patent #6,289,212 “generally allows a user to use e-mail applications on a mobile device when the network is unavailable – such as when a user is on an airplane.”
  • Patent #6,233,608 “relates to cloud computing.” The company said the patent for instance “enables data to be accessed or shared by different devices such as mobile handsets or computers.”
  • Patent #6,405,037 “allows access to updated versions of applications on mobile devices.”
  • Patent #6,430,409 “allows the mobile device to operate seamlessly, and securely, with a server over a wireless network.”
  • Patent #6,625,447 “allows consumers to experience an improved user experience in navigating through various pages of information without delay.”

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