Patent-holding company NTP filed lawsuits late Thursday afternoon against several major mobile phone industry brands. The same company sued Research in Motion, manufacturer of the BlackBerry handset models, for infringing on NTP'
s technology. The company asserts that its innovations form the foundation for many wireless e-mail systems and that these corporations have been using its tech illegally.
While NTP only targeted RIM back in 2006, the suit now covers Apple, Google, Microsoft, HTC, LG and Motorola. As The New York Times reports, "Its critics have said that NTP has consistently inflated the importance of its innovations and that it is the very model of a patent troll, a company that produces no product or service other than licensing demands and lawsuits." However, The Wall Street Journal comments that "Ron Epstein, a licensing lawyer hired by NTP to negotiate deals with the smartphone makers, said the intellectual property developed by [co-founder Thomas] Campana is legitimate and crucial to how wireless email is delivered today."
RIM ended up settling to the amount of $612.5 million, including a perpetual license to NTP's technology.
While reports claim the suit could win NTP several hundred million dollars, others say there may be no more money in this thread of suing. Since advancements are made so quickly, the email systems technology in question could now be different enough to be outside the jurisdiction of NTP's claims. Regardless of the outcome of this specific lawsuit, the Times explains that this type of work has already had effect on the patent economy. Big tech firms now seek out relevant patent clusters rather than ignore them. The WSJ article suggests if NTP does win, the amount will be less than the RIM settlement, since the current defendants will have been aware of that lawsuit and prepared some sort of legal work-arounds.