Messages Lands Apple in Patent Lawsuit with Mobile Telecom

MTel sues Apple over Messages patent infringementMobile Telecommunications Technologies has slapped Apple with a lawsuit alleging the company's Messages service infringes on patents it holds. MTel alleged that Apple is infringing on seven of its patents and added that by offering text messaging and email features, the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch infringe on those patents, too.

The lawsuit claimed Apple is infringing on U.S. patent 5,809,428 by offering support on its iOS devices for providing "Apple's iMessage communication service and other messaging services, including MMS text messaging services, XMPP-based messaging services and email services such as Google Gmail, Yahoo mail, AOL, Microsoft Exchange, Hotmail and Apple's iCloud and other email and messaging solutions and apps provided by or through Apple or its App Store."

MTel specifically targeted all "Apple-branded mobile phones, tablets and computers (e.g., all versions of Apple's iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)." In other words, if it has an Apple logo and runs OS X or iOS, it's included in the lawsuit.

The filing also targeted Apple's Wi-Fi product lineup which includes the AirPort Extreme and Express Base Stations, along with Time Capsule for allegedly infringing on patents 5,590,403, 5,659,891 and 5,915,210 covering simultaneous dual-band 802.11n features. According to Patently Apple, the lawsuit also lists patents 5,754,946, 5,894,506 and 5,786,748.

MTel operates SkyTel, which operates pager and other communication services in several countries so it doesn't fit the pattern for a patent troll, although its case was filed in Marshall Office for Eastern District in Texas which is known as a popular court for companies that simply hold patents and litigate to generate revenue.

This isn't the first time MTel has taken a company to court for infringing on these patents. In 2012, the company filed a similar lawsuits against BlackBerry and United Parcel Service listing many of the same patents it is using in its case against Apple.

Assuming the court agrees with MTel, the company could try to say it holds the patents on all text-based digital communication, which would put any company that makes, offers or sells products that enable or allow SMS and email in a position where they'd need to license those patents or face legal action. That doesn't, however, seem very likely since any win MTel might get will face appeal and Apple's legal team is no doubt already working on a strategy to deal with this case.