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Microsoft's Tanager phone breaches patent too – Sendo

Given the bird

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Hugh Brogan, boss of British phone manufacturer Sendo, says that Microsoft is continuing to infringe its patent in Tanager, Redmond's latest smartphone reference design.

"We have seen Tanager and yes, we believe that is also infringing," he told us today. However he couldn't say whether Tanager would be embroiled in the litigation that followed the messy divorce between Microsoft and its erstwhile star phone OEM. Earlier this month Brogan indicated that Sendo probably wouldn't sue Tanager OEMs, although the mere threat should be enough to concentrate their minds.

Last year, Sendo dramatically announced that it was dumping Microsoft and opting for Nokia's Series 60 platform for its high end smartphones. Litigation filed in Texas by Sendo claims that Microsoft had a "master plan" to cripple the British company, while stealing intellectual property and know-how which ended up in Orange's SPV. The SPV was made by contract manufacturer HTC to a reference design created by Microsoft. Last month Sendo sued Orange claiming the SPV infringed on a Sendo circuit board patent.

However in an update Brogan wanted to accentuate the positive. Sendo has made strides into the United States market.

"We've got three more phones on the roadmap for this year, including smartphone, and a good roadmap for next year," he told us. Referring to the litigation, he added: "Apart from wanting to right the wrongs that we believe were done to us, apart from that, it's history."

Brogan said working with Nokia was a pleasure, and Sendo's own Series 60 smartphone would be distinguished by an attractive software bundle and novel choice of materials.

"The User Interface will not be identical," he said. "We have added our own look and feel, and we have both user features and network operator to differentiate us."

Nokia unveiled its mass market Series 60 device this week, the 6600, which like Sendo's device is due to ship in the final quarter of this year. The 6600 is very conservatively styled - as our friends at Mobitopia pointed out, it's the first Series 60 to have a conventional keypad - so there's plenty of room for creative thinking.

Although he admits that last year "things were very difficult", Brogan says that Nokia has not made a cash injection into the company. Helped by two new models recently, including a colour clamshell, Sendo was showing month on month revenue growth of thirty per cent.

A hearing is scheduled for next month with Microsoft pressing to move the case from Texas to Redmond.

Brogan was pleased with the loyalty of developers, who have stayed with Sendo despite its move from Microsoft to Nokia/Symbian. Perhaps they're simply following the market: Nokia this week reaffirmed that it aimed to ship 10 million Series 60 phones this year, not far off the 10-12 million units shipped in the PDA market. ®

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