Google, Apple face patent suit over early wireless data technology

The former Openwave, now Unwired Planet, plans to capitalize on its portfolio of 200 wireless technologies

Apple and Google have both been sued for patent infringement by Unwired Planet, a company that holds many early patents for mobile and cloud computing.

Unwired Planet, formerly called Openwave Systems, filed the lawsuits Wednesday in the U.S. District Court of Nevada, asserting that Apple infringed on 10 of its patents, and that Google infringed on 10 other patents. The patents cover technologies such as push notification technologies, location-based services and digital content stores.

In a statement, Unwired Planet CEO Mike Mulica said the suits are part of a new strategy for the company to capitalize on its bank of 200 U.S. and foreign patents, as well as approximately 75 pending patent applications. In 2011, the company filed a patent-infringement complaint against Research In Motion with the International Trade Commission and at the U.S. District Court in Delaware. Also that year, Microsoft signed a licensing agreement with Openwave to use its technologies.

In the complaint filed against Google, Unwired Planet charges that Google knowingly developed technologies that infringed on Openwave's patents. Google technologies such as Adwords, Google Wallet, Google search, Google Maps and the Android operating system all violate Unwired Planet's patents, the company claimed.

Apple was hit with a similar lawsuit. The Apple products allegedly infringing Unwired Planet's patents include the iPhone, iPad, iPod, the Apple App Store, the Apple Push Notification Service (APNS), iAds, and the location services used in the Safari Web browser and Apple Maps.

"Apple has induced and continues to induce its customers and/or users of the accused products and services above to infringe one or more claims of the asserted patents," the complaint reads.

Neither Apple nor Unwired Planet immediately responded to a request for comment. Google declined to comment, beyond noting that it has not as of yet been served with the lawsuit papers.

Unwired Planet is requesting a jury trial for both cases.

Prior to changing its name to Unwired Planet earlier this year, Openwave focused on providing technologies for mobile handsets. It pioneered early mobile data technologies such as the widely used WML (Wireless Markup Language) and WAP (Wireless Access Protocol). Founded in 1994, the company has changed its name several times, and has been known as phone.com, Libris and Unwired Planet (now twice). The company went public in 1999, and for its fiscal 2001 reported more than US$465 million in revenue. In recent years, however, Unwired Planet's revenue has fallen dramatically, prompting it to look for additional sources of income, such as patent licensing. For fiscal 2012, which ended in June, the company reported revenue of $15.05 million, all from its patents.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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