Motorola fends off lawsuit from Taiwan phone firm

The Prosecutor's Office of the Taipei District Court has dismissed a criminal complaint filed by Taiwanese mobile phone maker...

The Prosecutor's Office of the Taipei District Court has dismissed a criminal complaint filed by Taiwanese mobile phone maker DBTel against Motorola Electronics Taiwan.

In September 2002, DBTel, a former manufacturing subcontractor for Motorola, filed suit against Motorola Taiwan alleging that the Motorola C289 mobile phone infringed upon a copyrighted printed circuit board design owned by DBTel.

The company also alleged that the C289 infringed upon a design patent it owns for the Motorola T189 mobile phone, which DBTel manufactured under contract for Motorola.

That suit has been dismissed by the Prosecutor's Office of the Taipei District Court, which ruled that DBTel had provided no evidence of infringement by Motorola and said DBTel had no legal basis to file a criminal complaint for design patent infringement, Motorola said.

A civil suit filed in Taiwan by Motorola against DBTel remains under litigation.

The legal battle between Motorola and DBTel springs from a four-year manufacturing deal between the companies that ended in 2002 amid allegations of unpaid component costs and stolen trade secrets.

This type of arrangement is common between multinational hardware suppliers and Taiwanese manufacturers. Many of the world's IT products are designed and manufactured by Taiwanese companies under contract.

In the case of Motorola and DBTel, the two companies signed a manufacturing agreement in 1998 which ended in April 2002. The following month Motorola filed suit in Taiwan against DBTel to recover what it claimed was $48m in unpaid costs for components used in mobile phone handsets and to protect what the company called its "trade secrets".

Motorola claimed in its suit that DBTel, which also manufactures and sells handsets under its own brand in countries like Taiwan and China, had violated the terms of the manufacturing agreement and had used Motorola trade secrets to compete against Motorola.

DBTel responded in September 2002 with the filing of the criminal complaint which has now been dismissed. That lawsuit was followed In October 2002 when Motorola filed a request with the Intellectual Property Office of Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs for DBTel's design patent for the T189 be invalidated.

Both the civil suit related to the claim for unpaid component costs and the invalidation request are still going on, Motorola said.

Sumner Lemon writes for IDG News Service

Read more on IT legislation and regulation