Openwave Sues Apple, RIM Over Mobile Internet Access

The Openwave complaints specifically allege that Apple and RIM infringe upon five Openwave patents.

Software developer Openwave filed complaints against Apple and Research In Motion in order to protect its intellectual property on how mobile devices connect to the Internet. The complaint, filed with the International Trade Commission in Washington, D.C., requests that the ITC bar the import of smartphones and tablet computers that infringe Openwave patents, including Apple's iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod Touch, iPad and iPad 2 and RIM's BlackBerry Curve 9330 and BlackBerry PlayBook. Openwave also filed a similar complaint in federal district court in Delaware.

Openwave alleges that Apple and RIM infringe upon five Openwave patents. These patents cover technology that gives consumers access to the Internet from their mobile devices, including Openwave's 212 patent that generally allows a user to use email applications on a mobile device when the network is unavailable-for example, when a user is on an airplane and the 409 patent that generally allows the mobile device to operate seamlessly, and securely, with a server over a wireless network.

"Openwave invented technologies that became foundational to the mobile Internet. We believe that these large companies should pay us for the use of our technologies, particularly in light of the substantial revenue these companies have earned from devices that use our intellectual property," said Ken Denman, CEO of Openwave. "Before filing these complaints, we approached both of these companies numerous times in an attempt to negotiate a license of our technology with them and did not receive a substantive response."

The company also filed complaints over three other patents, including their 037 patent, which generally allows access to updated versions of applications on mobile devices; the 447 patent, which generally allows consumers to experience an improved user experience in navigating through various pages of information without delay; and Openwave's 608 patent, which generally relates to cloud computing. The 608 patent enables data to be accessed or shared by different devices such as mobile handsets or computers. The company owns approximately 200 patents that support its software business with telecommunications operators worldwide.

"In the end, litigation is the only way we can defend our rights against these large companies that have effectively refused to license the use of the technologies we invented, are using today and are continuing to develop for our customers," Denman said. "We are proud that our technology is helping deliver such a rich mobile Internet experience to consumers around the world."

Openwave posted a letter to its shareholders describing the litigation, as well as the complaint as it is filed and other related materials, on its Website. "As it became clear that these large companies would not substantively cooperate with us, the company carefully evaluated its legal position and litigation prospects. We believe that our legal position is strong and our prospects of prevailing are very good," Denman said. "In our analysis, this is our best option to unlock the substantial value of our intellectual property. The ITC process typically results in judgments within 15 to 18 months. We anticipate that a favorable judgment will lead the companies to negotiate licensing agreements with us."