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Sony Ericsson sues over Clearwire swirl

Knickers in twist over similar spinny logos

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Sony Ericsson is suing Clearwire over its allegedly confusingly similar logo, trying to get it stopped before the US network operator launches mobile phones bearing the branding.

Sony Ericsson reckons Clearwire only decided on its logo in October 2009, and that it contacted the company in January 2010 to protest the similarity. In May Clearwire announced it would be selling mobile phones with the logo, competing directly with Sony Ericsson, and in October last year Clearwire painted its logo green, which has prompted the legal action from Sony Ericsson - Engadget has the whole thing in pdf form.

Respective logos for comparison

Sony Ericsson is the one on the right... or possibly the left

Sony Ericsson has been using its green swirl since it was set up by the two companies (as an independent entity) in 2001. The swirl is well recognised in Europe, though not so identifiable in the USA: which is a shame considering the company has apparently spent more than $40m promoting the brand (and swirl) in the USA over the last couple of years.

Clearwire was born of various efforts to jump the gun on 4G services by deploying WiMAX across America while the incumbents were still defining the LTE standard. That gamble hasn't paid off, and Clearwire is having a hard time recouping its investment. It has also been trimming its staff and finding a new Chairman (the founder having walked two weeks ago), not to mention working out how to shift its network to the now-dominant LTE standard.

One might be forgiven for thinking Sony Ericsson could just wait a year or two for the matter to become moot. But instead it's demanding $150,000 in cash, on top of estimated damages - trebled, as it considers the matter a knowing infringement - along with the usual legal costs. ®

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