Those of you who have been using smartphones since before Android was even a whisper might remember a company by the name of NTP. For those of you who are relatively new to the smartphone sector, NTP is a small patent holding company which chose to pick a fight with RIM nearly a half decade ago. The dispute about wireless email patents was finally settled in 2006, granting NTP a $612 million settlement. Later in 2006, NTP tried their luck against Palm, but the lawsuit was put on hold in early 2007 for unknown reasons.
After three years of silence, NTP is on the attack again, seemingly going after all the big players in the mobile market. NTP has just announced that they are bringing patent infringement lawsuits against Google, HTC, LG, Motorola, Microsoft, and Apple. While Tom Campana, the founder of NTP, holds validated patents from the USPTO Board which indicate that he was in fact the inventor of wireless email, we do not have any indication right now that hardware and software technologies used by Google and the other named parties actually infringe on of the patent claims.
NTP’s press release states that the lawsuit is necessary in order to “ensure that those companies who are infringing NTP’s patents will be required to pay a licensing fee” since their unlawful use of NTP’s patented technology is unfair to NTP’s current licensees. We are not sure how the lawsuit will affect Android or any future development of the OS, but we are pretty confident that Google will do anything in its power to make sure that Android remains an open platform. The original lawsuit against Rim lasted five years, so don’t expect a resolution for this case any time soon.Show Press Release
RICHMOND, Va., July 9 /PRNewswire/ — NTP Incorporated, the company founded by Tom Campana, the inventor of wireless email, yesterday filed lawsuits against Apple, Inc., Google Inc., HTC Corp., LG Electronics Inc., Microsoft Corporation, and Motorola, Inc. in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for infringing NTP’s eight patents related to the delivery of electronic mail over wireless communications systems. Each of the defendants is a manufacturer or developer of either wireless handheld devices or software applications used in the delivery of email across wireless communications systems.
Donald E. Stout, NTP’s co-founder, said, “Use of NTP’s intellectual property without a license is just plain unfair to NTP and its licensees. Unfortunately, litigation is our only means of ensuring the inventor of the fundamental technology on which wireless email is based, Tom Campana, and NTP shareholders are recognized, and are fairly and reasonably compensated for their innovative work and investment. We took the necessary action to protect our intellectual property.”
NTP is best known for its long litigation and eventual settlement with Research in Motion (RIM), maker of BlackBerry® wireless devices. In that litigation, all the claims asserted at trial were found to be valid and willfully infringed by RIM, and the verdict was ultimately affirmed on appeal by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Spurred by that litigation, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) moved to re-examine NTP’s patents. In December 2009, in spite of the massive effort by the USPTO to overturn NTP’s patents, the USPTO Board of Patent Appeals (USPTO Board) ruled that 67 of NTP’s patent claims in four patents are valid, including three claims that RIM was found to have infringed. Infringement of a single claim is all that is needed for a patent to be deemed violated.
NTP has also filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to overturn the USPTO’s remaining rejections of NTP’s patent claims.
“The filing of suit today is necessary to ensure that those companies who are infringing NTP’s patents will be required to pay a licensing fee,” Mr. Stout continued. “In view of the USPTO Board’s ruling, the debate over whether Mr. Campana was an originator in the field of wireless email is over. No patents in U.S. history have received as much scrutiny as NTP’s patents. We are delighted that the USPTO Board has recognized the groundbreaking innovation of Mr. Campana by confirming 67 of NTP’s patent claims. We are also confident that the USPTO’s rejections, which are on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, will be overturned.”
About NTP Incorporated
NTP Incorporated is a privately-held intellectual property firm based in Richmond, Virginia that was founded in 1992 by the late inventor Thomas Campana, Jr. and his partners. NTP’s intellectual property includes patents relating to technologies involving wireless email which Mr. Campana developed as lead inventor in 1990. Mr. Campana was awarded over 50 patents in his career and invented a wireless location technology that helps parents find their children which received first prize at the 1996 Consumer Electronics Show. NTP has licensing agreements with Research in Motion Limited, Good Technology, Inc., Nokia Inc., and Visto Corporation.