Sendo patent suit hinges on Taiwanese hardware

The intellectual property suit that mobile phone developer Sendo Holdings initiated against mobile operator Orange centres around...

The intellectual property suit that mobile phone developer Sendo Holdings initiated against mobile operator Orange centres around technology developed by a Taiwanese manufacturer supplying handhelds to Orange.

Taiwan-based High Tech Computing (HTC) supplies handhelds for the Orange SPV Smartphone which, Sendo claimed, infringes on its patent related to the design of a circuit board. However, since HTC is located in Taiwan, Sendo cannot sue it over a UK patent.

Instead, the company is suing Orange, which imports the HTC-made phone and sells it under its SPV Smartphone brand. The Orange SPV Smartphone runs Microsoft's Windows Powered Smartphone software.

Dai Davis, a consultant on IT law for UK law firm Nabarro Nathanson, said that it is common for companies to sue importers, especially when they have no patent for the technology in the country where it is manufactured.

A representative for Orange said on Friday that the company "strongly denies any impropriety" and that it is contacting the parties involved in the building of the handheld.

But even if Orange did not know about the alleged patent infringement, it could still be found culpable, Davis said, because patents are published and considered public knowledge.

Representatives for HTC were not available to comment on the matter.

Philippine mobile phone company Smart Communications launched a Smartphone using HTC handhelds earlier this year and German operator T-Mobile Deutschland was also set to launch an HTC-made Smartphone but delayed the rollout last month, citing service quality issues. Both phones run Windows Powered Smartphone software.

It is unclear, however, whether the phones used by T-Mobile and Smart Communications use the same circuit boards Sendo has laid claim to or whether Sendo has patents in those countries.

Sendo has also engaged in legal wrangling with Microsoft, and launched a suit against the software maker last December, alleging that the company had a "secret plan" to steal its technology during a development partnership.

Microsoft countersued earlier this year, denying the claims. Meanwhile, Sendo has announced plans to launch an intelligent or "smart" phone, which incorporates a range of applications and digital technology,  running software provided by Nokia.

With so much legal volleying, it remains to be seen how the market and the rollout of Microsoft Windows Powered Smartphones in particular will be affected.

A Microsoft representative in the UK declined to comment on Sendo's latest suit.

Scarlet Pruitt writes for IDG News Service

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