South Korean mobile operator wins patent suit against Viber

SK Telecom has won its patent lawsuit against Viber after a South Korean court ruled the latter infringed on four patents held by the mobile operator.

SK Telecom has won its patent lawsuit against Viber after a South Korean court ruled the latter had infringed on four patents held by the country's largest mobile operator.

The Seoul Central District Court also said the mobile messaging app could not be distributed in the local market, according to a report by Yonhap News Agency.

SK Telecom last October filed lawsuit alleging the feature in Viber's app that reorganizes selected contact information saved in a smartphone infringed on the telco's copyright, which was registered in 2006.

Commenting on the ruling, a SK Telecom spokesperson said in the report: "The ban will be imposed both on the Android and Apple iOS platforms. We have not yet heard from Viber whether it will bring the case to the higher court. The lawsuit came as Viber evidently infringed our patent rights."

He said the operator currently had no plans to initiate similar proceedings against other messaging apps such as South Korean app developer Kakao's KakaoTalk, which is highly popular in the country where it has some 37 million users.

SK Telecom earlier rebuffed suggestions it was targeting to block messaging apps so consumers would be forced to return to using SMS, hence, reviving the telco's revenue from the service.

Viber has more than 360 million users in 193 countries and is available across various mobile platforms including Windows Phone, Blackberry, and Symbian. It was acquired by Japan's Rakuten last year for US$900 million.

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