NTP: We sue the (wireless) world

NTP: We sue the (wireless) world

Summary: NTP is back for more patent goodies. And this time the patent-holding company is suing a lot more than just RIM.


NTP is back for more patent goodies. And this time the patent-holding company is suing a lot more than just RIM. NTP is suing AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint Nextel.

The claims are similar to what were made in NTP's RIM suit, which was a long, drawn out affair that led to a $612.5 million settlement from RIM. Just imagine the riches NTP may pull from giants such as AT&T and Verizon.

In the complaint, NTP sues Verizon--and the rest of the gang--for violating patents such as "electronic mail system with RF communications to mobile processors and method of operation thereof." Nearly all of the patents in the NTP complaint refer to email over mobile phones and processors. After reading the Bloomberg, Techmeme and News.com accounts of the suit I just had to see this debacle of a suit for myself. Here's the PDF of NTP's complaint for your reading enjoyment.

NTP is seeking a jury trial and wants a U.S. District court "to enjoin infringement and obtain damages resulting from the Defendant's unauthorized manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale and/or importation into the United States for subsequent use of sale of products, methods, processes, services and/or systems that infringe one or more claims of U.S. State Patent No. 5,436,960."

Edited that passage boils down to "pay me."

I'm no lawyer, but it looks like NTP wants a chunk of every smartphone every sold by wireless carriers. This should be some payday if successful. NTP specifically cites email services offered via the Palm Treo and Motorola Q.

Given that NTP cites its RIM victory as precedent it's surprising that this barrage of patent suits took this long.

If this NTP complaint ever gets to trial it'll be quite an epic battle. NTP is taking on much more than RIM here. RIM got tired. Verizon and AT&T have resources galore. And that duo has quite a following in Washington D.C. Want patent reform? Annoy AT&T and Verizon lobbyists.

The NTP complaint is very broad--anything involving email reportedly is under patent--but who can blame the shell company from trying. It worked once for NTP and it may work again.

Topics: Wi-Fi, Networking, BlackBerry

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  • The patent system is certainly broken. Hopefully NTP will pay he

    price this time. They got luck with RIM that could not afford a shutdown and wanting to get rid of the uncertainty. This as the patents were being invalidated.

    Well, who knows, in this case, the big players might settle for tens of millions, thus blocking little competitors that worry they do not have a patent license.
    • this is rediculous.. every peice of code out there has unix roots

      in c and all the other open source languages and networking protocols. (didn't ATT and Berkeley, and ARPA, start the pc revolution, and this is their reward?)

      Their just enhancing their own services.

      -Finally, companies that have billions to fight this little wanabee.

      my guess?... att will wipe them off the map. And their greed and illegal business practices will be exposed.

      Put me on that jury. Please.
    • Blocking little competitors ....

      All you have to do is demonstrate prior art, ie: you were doing the same before the NTP application. For example supply of equipment, communication records etc etc
  • RE: NTP: We sue the (wireless) world

    To paraphrase Dana Gardner:

    "If there were ever a case for patent reform, this is it."

    I hope NTP finally gets what [b]should have[/b] come to them against RIM: a loss in court, countersuits up the wazoo, and some meaningful patent reform to render patent abusers like them toothless.
    Tony Agudo
    • NTP not the only abuser.

      NTP isn't the only abuser of the patent system. Microsoft, IBM and other major players have retroactively patented ancient technologies they didn't invent in order to foul the waters for smaller competition.

      Example: The patent on the FAT file system, which wasn't filed until 20+ years after it was invented (by another company, not Microsoft) in an effort to foul the waters for FOSS-based operating systems. Just like the NTP patents, it's an example of something that is wholly invalid, yet has still made both the news and the courts.

      The fact remains that under the patent law, [u]no[/u] piece of software may be patented, because they are examples of algorithmic processes. Algorithms and mathematical formulae are specifically forbidden to be patented. This whole mess started with the (improper) patenting of PKZIP (First software patent awarded.) and who knows where it will end?
      Raymond Danner
  • Scumbags

    They (NTP) invented nothing nor created anything. They are nothing but a scumbag holding company. They remind me of a trap door spider waiting for some some company to walk by.
    • You forgot Greedy Scumbags...

      Don't you have to be intellectual to have intellectual property?
      • No, you do not have to be intellectual at all!!

        That would be like saying don't you have to be a gold miner to have gold? Don't you have to be an automobile manufacturer to have an automobile?? NO.

        The problem is intellectual property is that legally it is PROPERTY just like any other property. The sad thing is that while its legally just like any other property, in reality its nothing like any other property. Its so unique and distinguishable it is in fact ludicrous its looked at in such a similar way as most other property.

        The first problem is that the law recognizes the fact that simply an "Idea" should not enjoy property rights; not just intellectual property rights, but generally, we all have ideas, sometimes the same ideas, giving someone any kind of property right based on an idea would not only be ridiculous, it would be unworkable. The problem comes in once you recognize the fact that the very foundation and value in an intellectual property is the idea itself. If the idea is good (meaning workable/usable) and it is a new idea (first time brought to the attention of the public, usually a patent office) its almost always considered to be an idea worthy of patent protection.

        While patent offices will argue to death that there is more to it then that, far too often that is a big shovel full of crap and that is all there is to garnering the intellectual property rights to a particular idea. Far far too often the situation is that an idea is far from unique, and in many cases barely unique, where a half dozen other persons or entities are on the cusp of figuring out the same thing, or worst of all, its an idea that anyone who is knowledgeable in the field in question would eventually come to a very similar or identical idea if they had any need or interest to put their mind to the issue.

        Its kind of like getting a patent on painting a house ultra violet. Its only a unique idea from the perspective that nobody does it. Nobody wants to do it. They have no need to do it. Lets say it was found that living in a house painted ultra violet was better for your health. The "Idea" that spawned the information that living in the house painted ultra violet would be a fantastic discovery and a really great idea if it was true, but as strictly an idea that idea, or discovery would not be patentable, but if someone had a patent on ultra violet house paint that worked for that purpose, it would be patentable. Yet no doubt thousands of chemists could have eventually come up with the very same formula given a bit of time once they knew it was an important formula to create.

        The system is wacko and it makes no real sense, and the real problem is that nobody appears able to fix it. Now the person who figures out how to fix that problem cant patent the idea but the people who implement the actual change can patent that process. Its crazy.
    • Trap door spiders

      You're selling trap door spiders short. Yes, they're ambush predators, but they're
      honest ambush predators. They build their own traps.

      NTP is nothing but an IP parasite, and even so, they give pinworms a bad name.
  • i get the image . . .

    of a Sea Lion (NTP) Attacking an orca (AT&T). The Next scene you see is a flipper floating to the bottom, and a well fed orca swimming away . . . .

    Somehow, I think that this was probably the DUMBEST thing NTP could have done . . .
  • RE: NTP: We sue the (wireless) world

    The penalty for losing a patent claim should be death. You lose, you die. "Judge: Now, do you really think your patent is valid sir? CTP CEO: Um, never mind. Sorry to have wasted the court's time your honor"
  • I Hope They Do Try This...

    ... because this will spur patent reform like nobody's business. RIM is one thing - AT&T, Verizon, Sprint? Bring it on, buddy, bring it on.

    Even if patent law does not get reformed, then this will lose (in courts in the UK and the US the ones with the money usually [but not always] win) so badly that it will make patents such as this next to useless.
    • RIM had more money that them

      Didn't help rim though.

      Lack of money will cause your court case to fail but if both side have tons the whole thing turns into who has more paper.
      • AT&T, Verizon, et al clearly have MORE

        more lawyers, more paper, more friends, more users, more money...

        I mean, you don't get a nigh-monopoly without having a LOT. NTP is looking at this as David and Goliath... AT&T et al are probably thinking of this as a honey bee versus a grey elephant (which is closer to reality, I'd think)
    • These patents are US only.

      Someone else holds patents for the same technology in the UK and in Germany, for instance. They lost when they tried to sue RIM!
      M Wagner
      • Previous Technology

        Isn't this based on the old ham radio packet system? This was developed in the 1960's.
        • Precisely.

          GPRS (Global Packet Radio System) is the basis for enabling pretty much all Internet and email systems on all cellphones.
          Raymond Danner
  • In Other News: Patent System Broken

    Making a living solely from litigation of patent violations is not the spirit that the patent system was supposed to provide for.
    • Seems par for the course

      I'm not surprised - and I actually believe that NTP will win. There's just so much corruption everywhere that everyone involved will take a chunk of cash from the "Big Guys" - directly or indirectly. The graft will be flying thick because of the promise of BIG $$$$. NTP can't lose!
      • gov't in the pocket outdoes being the big guy

        sure, a jury would likely be against AT&T, but that doesn't mean the court will... and it's the entire court that must be convinced. as well, when you're that big, it's likely that most of the jury would have some sort of mobile phone, many of which would likely get email... they wouldn't want to lose that.

        and then there are the government strings that can be pulled... hurrah for the recent patent reform step towards victory!