Nokia sued in US over messaging patent

Technology that sends text messages and ring tones from Nokia phones infringes a US patent, according to the patent's New Zealand owner. The lawsuit says Nokia's infringement was wilful, deliberate, wanton and reckless.

Michael S Sutton Ltd, a New Zealand company, has filed a case with the Federal Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

The claim relates to US pa tent number 5,771,238, awarded in 1998. It describes an "enhanced one way radio seven bit data network".

The lawsuit says that many of the Finnish company's technologies infringe. "In particular, the accused products include Nokia’s messaging applications running on Nokia phone devices which enable MMS messages and SMS messages, including the transmitting of ring tones, Operator Logos, CLI Logos, vCards, vCalendars; Nokia’s Smart Messaging Service Center applications; those applications that implement the Computer Interface to Message Distribution protocol; and Nokia’s implementation of the WAP 2.0, 1.2, 1.1, and 1.0 in its phone devices," says the complaint.

Nokia said that it would defend itself against the charge. "This case was previously filed against Nokia and then voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff," a spokeswoman told the Reuters news agency. "We will analyze the details of the new case which was filed on 30 April, 2007 and actively defend the rights of Nokia."

Michael S Sutton Ltd is claiming wilful infringement which, if proved, entitles it to triple damages. It is also seeking a jury trial and asking for an injunction to stop Nokia's use of technology.

Nokia is already involved in a dispute with Qualcomm over patents and the cross licensing of patents. A long-running agreement ended in April over each company's use of the other's technology, and no replacement agreement has been signed.

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