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Patent holder sues Apple, Google, others over wireless e-mail

A patent holder that won $612.5 million from Research in Motion in 2006 over the use of e-mail in smartphones has now taken aim at Apple, Google, Microsoft and other companies in a new suit.

NTP Incorporated issued a press release on Friday revealing its lawsuit against Apple, Google, HTC, LG Electronics, Microsoft and Motorola. The complaint was filed in a U.S. District Court in Eastern Virginia, and covers eight patents related to the delivery of e-mail over wireless communications systems.

NTP was founded by Tom Campana, who the company claims is "the inventor of wireless e-mail." The release noted that each of the defendants in the case makes wireless handheld devices or software applications to deliver e-mail across wireless communications systems.

"Use of NTP's intellectual property without a license is just plain unfair to NTP and its licensees," NTP co-founder Donald E. Stout said. "Unfortunately, litigation is our only means of ensuring the inventor of the fundamental technology on which wireless e-mail is based, Tom Campana, and NTP shareholders are recognized, and are fairly and reasonably compensated for their innovative work and investment. We took the necessary action to protect our intellectual property."

NTP reached a settlement with RIM, the maker of the BlackBerry line of smartphones, in 2006. That suit covered the same eight patents that are at issue with the complaint announced on Friday.

NTP noted that in 2009, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Board of Patent Appeals ruled that 67 of NTP's patent claims in four patents were valid, including three claims that RIM was found to have infringed. The USPTO has rejected other patent claims by NTP, which the company has appealed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

"The filing of suit today is necessary to ensure that those companies who are infringing NTP's patents will be required to pay a licensing fee," Stout said. "In view of the USPTO Board's ruling, the debate over whether Mr. Campana was an originator in the field of wireless e-mail is over. No patents in U.S. history have received as much scrutiny as NTP's patents."

In 2007, NTP took aim at the largest wireless carriers in the U.S., filing lawsuits with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. And in 2006, NTP also sued Palm over the use of e-mail on wireless devices.