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Patent holder sues smart-phone makers over patents

The patent-holding company that won a settlement of more than $600 million from the maker of the BlackBerry has sued six other companies in the smart-phone industry, reports the Associated Press. Patent company NTP Inc. is suing Apple, Google, Microsoft, HTC, Motorola, and LG Electronics, claiming infringement of the same patents that were at issue in its case against BlackBerry maker Research In Motion. The lawsuit against RIM ended with a $612.5 million settlement in 2006. However, changes in court practices have reduced NTP’s power to win large settlements, and if NTP prevails, it’s likely to receive much less from each defendant this time. Microsoft and Apple said they had no comment; the other targets did not respond to requests for comment. NTP was founded by Thomas Campana, an inventor, and Don Stout, a lawyer. Campana worked on wireless eMail technology in the early 1990s, but never commercialized the technology. He died in 2004. In the aftermath of the RIM settlement, NTP’s patents have been re-examined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and many of their claims have been thrown out. But the office upheld three of the 10 patent claims that RIM was found to have infringed, said Stout, NTP’s president. In 2006 and 2007, NTP sued the nation’s four largest wireless carriers—AT&T, Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile USA, Sprint Nextel Corp., and Verizon Wireless—and phone maker Palm Inc. over the same patents; those lawsuits are still pending…

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