Wednesday, April 06, 2005

University of Texas suing 33 companies over patent

from dallas.bizjournals:

The UT system alleges that 33 defendants, which range from Alcatel USA to Siemens Communications Inc., have produced dozens of products that infringe on a patent that covers a means of recognizing words and other messages sent from numbered keys, such as on a 12-key pushbutton phone.

UT is seeking unspecified damages, along with preliminary and permanent injunctions barring the defendants from infringing on the patent. It has set up a Web site dedicated to what it calls the "112 patent" at

Since UT does not compete with the telecom companies it is suing, many experts believe that UT filed the suits to gain revenue from licensing agreements. Sources say that with a case like this, license fees could yield millions of dollars if UT is successful.

"This is not about getting a big win and grabbing some money," one UT official said on condition of anonymity. "It's about keeping things fair in the business world."

UT, which declined to discuss the matter beyond a brief written statement, filed two suits over the same patent earlier this month in federal district court in Austin. All told, the litigation names a total of 33 defendants, though some are related entities, such as New York-based NEC USA and Irving's NEC America.

NEC America and Alcatel USA appear to be the only two defendants with a North Texas presence. Together the two companies sell four of the disputed products, UT says, including two wireless phones made by Alcatel.

The defendants include some of the biggest names in the technology and telecom-gear space, including Siemens, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB and Sharp Corp., along with a number of smaller players, some located in Asia and Europe.

All of the defendants either couldn't be reached or declined to comment.


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