Patent-holding company NTP sues smartphone makers

Six companies were sued by patent holding company NTP on Friday, claiming infringement on the same patents that successfully earned the company a $612.5 million settlement from BlackBerry maker RIM in 2006. The lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va. Thursday afternoon.

NTP said it filed the suit against Apple, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, and Motorola to force the companies to pay licensing fees for their technology. The patents include methods to deliver e-mail over wireless connections.

Requests for damages were not specified. A request for comment from all defendants named in the suit had not been returned as of press time.

"Use of NTP's intellectual property without a license is just plain unfair to NTP and its licensees," co-founder Donald Stoudt said in a statement. "We took the necessary action to protect our intellectual property."

Stoudt, a lawyer, founded NTP along with Thomas Campana, the inventor of the technologies the company holds patents for. Campana never moved to commercialize his efforts, and died in 2004.

His company originally moved to sue RIM in 2001, and nearly had an agreement to settle in 2005 which fell apart. Following the settlement of the suit, the US Patent Office examined NTP's patents and found that only three of the original ten claims against RIM were valid.

Most of the patent holding company's portfolio remained intact, however, and the company has filed with an appeals court to have those patent claims thrown out by the USPTO restored.

"No patents in U.S. history have received as much scrutiny as NTP's patents," Stoudt argued. He added that he hoped any claims could be settled without the case having to go to trial.

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