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RIM, Motorola Launch Flurry Of Patent Lawsuits

The two companies had a cross-licensing agreement in place that expired in 2003, and they haven't been able to negotiate a renewal of the agreement.

Research in Motion late last week filed a lawsuit with a U.S. district court, claiming that Motorola infringed on RIM's patents and acted unlawfully with respect to its own patents. Motorola, in turn, filed two lawsuits against RIM.

The RIM complaint was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. RIM, the maker of the popular BlackBerry smartphone, stated that Motorola has infringed and continues to infringe on nine RIM patents. Motorola also refused to compensate RIM for using its patented technologies, according to the complaint.

Some of the patents are related to how mobile phones interact with Wi-Fi networks.

Additionally, RIM claimed that Motorola continues a "pattern of unfair and anticompetitive conduct with respect to its own patents that it has committed to licensing to others on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms."

RIM said Motorola allowed several standards development organizations to license some of its patents to incorporate Motorola's technologies into technical standards. RIM said Motorola broke its promise by requiring RIM to pay excessive royalties for its patents.

Motorola filed similar lawsuits with district courts in Texas and Delaware around the same time, claiming that RIM violated several Motorola patents, according to Reuters.

The two companies had a cross-licensing agreement in place that expired in 2003, and they haven't been able to negotiate a renewal of the agreement. The lawsuits are a way to force a resolution, which is likely to end in a settlement between RIM and Motorola, said John Rabena, a partner with law firm Sughrue Mion.

"Texas is one of the most popular states for patent infringement. But since there have been so many lawsuits filed there, cases now typically take two years to go to trial. A case in Delaware would probably get to trial six months faster," said Rabena.

Rabena expects to see many more patent infringement lawsuits related to Wi-Fi in mobile phones in the near future because of the technology's growing popularity.

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