Patent holding company NTP on Thursday filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against Apple [corporate website] and several other smart phone makers for patent infringement related to the use of e-mail systems that utilize technology patented by NTP. The complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website], claims that NTP holds the patent to the first wireless e-mail system, patented in 1995, which provided the foundation for the modern e-mail systems used by Apple in the iPhone and iPad [product websites] and in other smart phones and devices. The lawsuits seek injunctions against Apple, HTC, Microsoft, LG, Google and Motorola [corporate websites] preventing them from using this technology in the future and seeking compensatory and enhanced damages for the infringement. The patents at issue in the case are the same ones over which NTP sued Research in Motion (RIM) [corporate website], maker of the BlackBerry [product website], in 2001. That case was concluded in 2006 with a USD $612.5 million settlement agreement [JURIST report]. In 2003, the district court ruled that RIM violated a patent held by NTP, and that decision was upheld [JURIST report] on appeal. The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] said in January 2006 that it would not consider the case [JURIST report].
In June, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) [official website] launched an investigation [JURIST report] into allegations made by HTC accusing Apple of patent infringement on its portable electronic devices. HTC filed a complaint with the ITC in May [JURIST report] claiming that Apple had infringed on five of HTC's patents, and is seeking an exclusion order and a cease and desist order, which would ban Apple's importation of iPhones, iPads and iPods. In March, Apple filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against HTC in the US District Court for the District of Delaware [official website] alleging that several of HTC's products infringe 10 patents owned by Apple. Apple also filed a complaint [text, PDF] against HTC with the ITC claiming infringement of 10 other Apple patents, seeking to bar the importation of infringing devices. Apple has recently been involved in numerous legal actions over alleged patent infringement. In October, Finnish telecommunications company Nokia [corporate website] filed suit [JURIST report] against Apple alleging that Apple infringed 10 of its patents since the first iPhone was released in 2007. The patents cover wireless data transmission, speech coding, and security/encryption.