Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung Sued By Bluetooth Patent Holder - InformationWeek

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Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung Sued By Bluetooth Patent Holder

Washington Research Institute filed the suit following three years of talks that failed to reach an agreement.

A non-profit group has sued Nokia, Samsung Electronics, and Matsushita Electric Industrial, better known as Panasonic, claiming the defendants infringed on its Bluetooth-related patents. At least one analyst firm said Wednesday the litigation could have a significant impact on the market for the wireless technology.

The Washington Research Institute, based in Seattle, filed the suit Dec. 21 in U.S. District Court, following three years of talks that failed to reach an agreement. The private, nonprofit agency, which holds a number of Bluetooth-related patents from the 1990s, is seeking unspecified damages. The WRI conducts research in a variety of fields, and is supported by grants and contracts from federal, state and local agencies, and private foundations.

Stuart Carlaw, analyst for ABI Research, noted in the firm's blog that all of the defendants received their Bluetooth chipsets from CSR PLC of England, which does not have a licensing deal with WRI. CSR rival Broadcom of Irvine, Calif., however, does license WRI technology.

"The outcome of this litigation could have significant impacts upon the state of the Bluetooth market -- and most notably the cost trend -- but could also have some impact upon the manufacturer environment where companies may swing to Broadcom for a 'quick fix' to this unfortunate situation," Carlaw said.

Bluetooth is wireless technology used in communications between electronic devices, such as a camera phone or other handheld device and a PC.

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