It seems Sprint just can't catch a break lately. After the LightSquared LTE fiasco (it seems eminently likely Sprint will be forking over $65 million and have to cancel the deal), this just seems a bit like kicking the company when it's already down. Comcast has filed suit in Pennsylvania against the nation's number-three carrier, and it's for patent infringement.
Namely, Comcast alleges that Sprint is violating patents it owns covering technologies like SMS/MMS, mobile broadband cards and hotspots, as well as certain traffic routing technologies (IP/MPLS). Here are some excerpts from the complaint regarding the patents:
- No. 7,684,391: Communications System for Delivering Multimedia Internet Protocol Packets Across Network Boundaries. Comcast claims that Sprint’s voice and data service using IP/MPLS backhaul or transport are infringing. Patent issued March 23, 2010.
- No. 6,885,870: Transferring of a Message. Comcast claims that Sprint’s multimedia messaging service (MMS) products for picture mail, wireless video mail and mobile email infringe on this one. Patent issued April 26, 2005.
- No. 5,987,323: Starting a Short Message Transmission in a Cellular Communication System. Comcast alleges that Sprint short message service (SMS) products such as Vision Pack, unlimited texting, wireless texting and wireless premium test messaging plans infringe. Patent issued Nov. 16, 1999.
- No. 6,112,305: Mechanism for Dynamically Binding a Network Computer Client Device to an Approved Internet Service Provider. Comcast (via its TVWorks unit) claims that Sprint wireless data products, including mobile broadband USB models and PCMCIA wireless cards offered under the carrier’s 3G Mobile Broadband Connection and PowerVision plans infringe. Patent issued Aug. 29, 2000.
Of course, this comes hot on the heels of Sprint suing Comcast (among three others) back in December for claimed infringement of patents it holds on VoIP technology.
Patent infringement suits tend to go this way - creating a patent portfolio standoff that will (hopefully) lead to settlement negotiations and licensing agreements.