Big mobile players call truce over major patent claims

Apple, Google, Microsoft, and 10 others agree to settle broad claims made by NTP

Patent holding firm NTP has reached a possibly unprecedented agreement with 13 mobile technology vendors, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, HTC, Motorola Mobility (now owned by Google), Palm (now owned by Hewlett-Packard), LG Electronics, Samsung, and Yahoo. The simultaneous settlements may represent the first time a patent holder has made its patents available in a one-time settlement deal with the large part of a single industry, said Ron Epstein, founder of Epicenter Law and settlement counsel for NTP.

Research in Motion was forced to pay NTP a $612.5 million settlement over the same patents in 2006. NTP then sued the rest of the mobile industry in cases that began in 2007 and remained unsettled until Monday's agreement.

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NTP didn't disclose the terms of the patent settlements. The agreements allow the tech firms to use NTP's patented technology, including eight U.S. patents related to the delivery of email over wireless systems. NTP will get licensing fees from the tech firms. All the pending patent-infringement litigation between NTP and these companies will be dismissed, NTP said.

NTP was able to offer the licenses at "substantial discounts," yet get a reasonable compensation because so many companies were at the negotiating table, Epstein claimed.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for the IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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