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
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat