Google, Apple Hit With New Mobile Patent Infringement Suits

By Joseph Mandour on September 20, 2012

Patent Dispute Los Angeles – Unwired Planet LLC hit Google Inc. and Apple Inc. with matching patent infringement lawsuits in Nevada federal court Wednesday alleging that they are using Unwired Planet’s patented technology in their mobile products.

Unwired Planet is asserting 10 patents related to wireless technology against Apple and 10 different ones against Google. Google’s mobile app services such as Google Play, Google Maps, Google Ad-Words and other signature services are identified as infringing. Apple’s App Store, location services, Siri iPhone feature and various other mobile app systems using the iOS operating system including iPhones, iPads and iPods came under fire as well.

Unwired Planet claims to be widely regarded as a pioneer of the mobile internet, saying that it invented many of the fundamental technologies that allowed mobile devices to connect to the internet in meaningful ways.

The company claims to have been instrumental in developing the Wireless Application Protocol, which was the first widely used standard that allowed mobile devices such as cellular phones to connect to the internet.

“Unwired Planet was founded with the vision of bringing the ‘internet-in-your-pocket’ to the world,” the complaint says. “But, at the time of the inventions at issue here, most technology firms were not interested. While Unwired Planet saw the need for applications and environments that could leverage emerging devices and increasing bandwidth, other technology firms were too focused on their old way of doing business.”

As a result, Unwired Planet was the first to put an internet browser into a phone, signing a deal with AT&T in 1996 through its predecessor, the company says.

Unwired Planet’s predecessor company Openwave Systems Inc. was formed in 2000 in a $6.4 billion merger between Phone.com and Software.com. By mid-2001, about 97 percent of internet-ready mobile phones in the U.S. and 75 percent overseas used an Openwave browser, the company says.

“Unfortunately, merely having patents did not protect Openwave from infringing competition,” the complaint says.

As Openwave’s revenues and market share fell, it had to downsize, and the alleged onslaught of infringing competition eventually forced Openwave out of the market it created. Openwave sold its product businesses in April, but retained its patent portfolio and changed its name to Unwired Planet.

“Unwired Planet retained its patents, representing almost two decades of investment, allowing the company to focus its efforts on licensing its fundamental patent portfolio to the companies whose infringement put it out of the software and service businesses,” the complaint says.

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Posted in: Patent Infringement