John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Apple, RIM Can’t Shrug Off Openwave’s Patent Attack

When Openwave sued Apple and Research In Motion for patent infringement before the International Trade Commission earlier this week, it claimed its prospects of prevailing were very good. And while that might seem like puffery and prelitigation bluster, intellectual property experts say the company’s legal position is actually pretty strong.

Compared to the likes of Motorola or Nokia, Openwave has a relatively small portfolio, but according to Erin-Michael Gill, managing director and chief intellectual property officer at MDB Capital Group, it’s a potentially formidable one.

“Even though Openwave has a small portfolio, the quality of this IP is what’s important,” Gill says. “By our internal metrics, and looking through the assets at issue, we believe this to be a high quality portfolio.”

And as you can see from the charts included in this post, the number of citations Openwave’s portfolio has racked up, and the stature of the companies making them, would seem to support that assertion.

So could OpenWave win the injunctions it has asked the ITC for? That’s tough to say. But in the end, says Gill, the company is probably not really seeking that.

More likely it’s just looking to drag Apple and RIM into the licensing discussions they’ve so far avoided. And by asserting the five it has chosen, which cover a relatively wide swath of technologies, it has made it difficult for Apple and RIM to dodge them by implementing noninfringing design changes.

“They have chosen patents with a great mix of broad and narrow claims, covering a range of smartphone core features and functions,” Gill says. “But I’d be surprised if this ended in an injunction.”

In other words, Openwave is looking to force Apple’s and RIM’s hands, not chop them off.

[Image credit: Charts courtesy MDB Capital Group, PatentVest]

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