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Nokia, HTC and RIM dragged into patent dispute

US firm seeks gadget import ban

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Gadgets made by a host of big-name manufacturers, including Nokia and HTC, could be banned from import into the US, if a patent violation investigation being conducted the US International Trade Commission (ITC) rules in the claimant’s favour.

The government body has voted to investigate claims by patent purchasing firm Saxon Innovations of Tyler, Texas that the named technology firms have each violated up to three patents owned by the company.

BlackBerry maker RIM, Panasonic and AVC Networks – a Panasonic-owned firm that makes gear related to SD cards, DVDs and digital TVs – have also been accused by Saxon.

Specific details about which products are supposedly at fault and how they could have trampled on Saxon’s patents are scarce. But an ITC announcement has mentioned “handheld wireless communication devices”, “smart phones”, “cellular telephones” and “television remote controls”.

According to online reports, one of the patents that Saxon’s upset about is for a keypad monitor with keypad activity based activation. Another patent is said to cover a device and method for inter-processor communication using mailboxes owned by processor devices.

Both patents were initially granted to chip maker AMD, until Saxon bought them in July 2007.

It’s also rumoured that Nokia's N73 and N95 handsets could be at risk, in addition to the BlackBerry 8100 Pearl and Palm's Treo 700p.

Saxon Innovations is seeking an exclusion order, and cease-and-desist orders. An initial hearing into the alleged patent violation will take place during the coming months. ®

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