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A Texas-based company known as H-W Technology has sued Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, eBay, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, Verizon, Expedia, Priceline, Hotels.com, and 20 other companies and sister companies, claiming infringement of a single patent.

And this is not April's Fool prank. This sort of thing goes on all the time in Texas.

The patent in question – carrying US patent number 7,525,955 – covers an "Internet protocol (IP) phone with search and advertising capability." It was filed in March 2005 and granted in April 2009.

A software platform described in the patent runs on an "Internet Protocol (IP) phone having the ability to be used with different communication infrastructures such as broadband, wireless communication, and Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) service." It can "used with different applications operating on the IP phone," and this IP phone has "the ability to perform additional functionality than traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) phones, such as searches and advertising, given its ability to converge voice and data within a single terminal."

In its suit, H-W says the patent covers systems running on smartphones and other similar devices that let users "receive information and offers from merchants and to complete a transaction with one of said merchants without having to generate a voice call." The suit targets smartphone makers such as Apple and Motorola, but also application providers such as Amazon, Hotels.com, and Priceline. The suit hits US wireless carrier Verzion over the VCast application it bundles with phones on its network.

The suit demands a jury trial, and it seeks both damages and an injunction. It was filed in the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division. ®

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