There’s more mobile patent madness in store for Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and Research in Motion (NSDQ: RIMM). Openwave Systems (NSDQ: OPWV) has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit in federal court and before the International Trade Commission contending that both companies are infringing on patents for “technologies that became foundational to the mobile Internet.”
Stop me if you’re heard this one before: a mobile company that’s not making very much money on its own is looking to cash in through the patent system. In this particular case, Openwave is asserting five patents that cover a number of widely used mobile concepts, such as a patent that it said “enables data to be accessed or shared by different devices such as mobile handsets or computers.” Its complaint lists the iPhone, iPad, the BlackBerry Curve 9330, and the BlackBerry Playbook as infringing devices.
Openwave “approached both of these companies (Apple and RIM) numerous times in an attempt to negotiate a license of our technology with them and did not receive a substantive response,” said Ken Denman, Openwave’s CEO, in a press release.
It’s not clear why Openwave is not going after any Android companies, who have been under attack from Apple and Microsoft over patents related to their phones. The section of Openwave’s complaint that lists current licensees for the patents was treated as confidential information.
However, in a statement to mocoNews Openwave confirmed that Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and other Android partners do not have licenses to their patents, as “Openwave licenses its technology to communication service providers,” the company said. The company said it had approached other companies besides Apple and RIM, but had nothing to say regarding the nature of those other conversations. Google had no immediate comment on whether it had been approached by Openwave.
Over the past two years Openwave has been filing patent applications in hopes of cashing in on its intellectual property, Denman said in a letter to investors posted on the company’s Web site. Before it could file the lawsuits against Apple and RIM, it had to pay another company–Myriad–$12 million in cash “to release any claim to our patents,” suggesting that ownership of the patents could be disputed by the defendants.
Apple and RIM have gotten to know the folks at the ITC very well this year, with cases involving Kodak, Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Samsung, HTC, and others having been argued before the organization this year.