The six technology giants are being brought to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for infringing eight patents relating to push e-mail.
NTP was founded by the inventor Tom Campana, who is creditted with inventing wireless push e-mail in 1990. He managed to amass 50 patents over his life-time, which NTP is now fighting tooth and claw for.
“Use of NTP’s intellectual property without a license is just plain unfair to NTP and its licensees,” said NTP co-founder Donald E. Stout. “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 sued Blackberry-maker RIM in 2006 in a similar case of patent infringement, ultimately being awarded $612.5 million by RIM to licence its patents. With so many big players in this latest lawsuit it could be an utter failure for NTP or it may amass billions in licence fees.
The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) attempted to overturn NTP’s patents after the RIM court battle, but a December 2009 ruling by the Board of Patent Appeals voted in favour of NTP. The USPTO has brought the matter to the US Court of Appeals, which could overturn the Board of Patent Appeals’ decision, particularly in light of this latest, much larger series of lawsuits aimed at scavenging as much money as possible from the tech firms.
If it was not clear enough that NTP is looking for a payout, Stout was less ambiguous: “The filing of the suit today is necessary to ensure that those companies who are infringing NTP’s patents will be required to pay a licensing fee.” Ka-ching!