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
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory