Sony takes on LG with latest phone patent suit

Two more companies leapt on the smartphone lawsuit merry-go-round yesterday as Sony filed a complaint seeking to block LG Electronics from shipping phones to the US.

The patent infringement filing is the latest case in a frenetic 18 months of legal activity for the industry. Companies including Apple, Nokia, Motorola, Microsoft and Google could all see the inside of the court room in 2011.

Sony filed its complaint on Wednesday to the International Trade Commission (ITC), a body that is seeing an increasing number of smartphone suits.

Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Gartner, said: "It's a strange move by Sony because they have little share of the smartphone market in the US. LG is really eating into their market share in Europe." She added: "We can now wait for LG's countersuit; that's the way these cases have normally gone."

Sony said the phones, which include the Encore, LG Accolade and the Rumor Touch, have technology that infringe its patents and would violate trade rules. It also filed a suit against LG in the Los Angeles District Court.

The patents cover issues including photo-based caller ID, technology for audio and transmission power. These are currently licensed by its joint venture Sony Ericsson as well as Nokia and Samsung.

LG said it would review the technologies in question, telling AFP "we will take action and activelyrespond". The world's third largest handset maker has so far struggled to make an impact in smartphones. In the third quarter its mobile phone sales dropped almost a third, which heralded the chief executive Nam Yong's departure in September. The company said it would invest $14.1bn (£9.2bn) to turn the division around.

Sony's lawsuit follows a series of similar moves from operators, handset makers, and semiconductor groups. Nokia's battle with Apple has escalated since the Finnish group filed inOctober last year, following up with a suit at the ITC which called for iPhone sales in the US to be blocked.

After taking on Apple over its iPhone, iPod and iPad in the US, Nokia has filed cases in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. Apple countered with lawsuits of its own. It is also locked in patent disputes with the handset makers Motorola and HTC. Steve Jobs has said: "We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it."

Ms Milanesi said: "This is where we are today. Companies are suing because nobody likes a freeloader, and many of these guys have a lot of patents. Licensing these patents can also make a lot of money. It shows the competition out there is getting tougher."

She added: "We haven't seen the end of companies suing over patents, not for a long while." Google, which developed the Android platform found on hundreds of smartphone devices, is also facing a legal challenge. The US technology giant Oracle claims that Android infringes on Java patents that came with its acquisition of Sun. Google has responded that the claims are "baseless".

At the start of the year, Eastman Kodak filed a lawsuit against Apple and Research in Motion (RIM), the Canadian group that makes the BlackBerry, over phone camera technology.

Motorola, in addition to its dispute with Apple, has also been slapped with a lawsuit from Microsoft, and has a complaint outstanding against RIM. Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, has also filed patent infringementcomplaints against a series of technology companies, including Google,over Android.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Travel
Streets ahead: Venice
travelWhat's trending on your wishlist?
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect