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Sony Ericsson walks away from Clearwire logo fight

Losing 4G contender looking too poorly to be a threat

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Sony Ericsson has given up its action against Clearwire for having a swirly green logo, as Clearwire concedes it is unlikely to ever launch a competing range of mobile phones.

Sony Ericsson's action was taken in January, when Clearwire was still planning to launch the handsets it announced last year. Since then the operator has seen its core technology, WiMAX, dropped around the world, its primary customer, Sprint, flirting with the competition, and one of its biggest investors, Intel, selling off shares – so Clearwire won't be making phones any time soon.

The company stated as much to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, prompting Sony Ericsson to give up its action that had demanded $150,000 in cash along with three times the estimated damages for a confusingly similar green swirl:

Respective logos for comparison

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

Clearwire's network was built using WiMAX, a standard that tried, and failed, to elbow aside LTE and become the accepted standard for 4G. Despite enthusiastic support from Intel, which holds a lot of the WiMAX patents, the standard was never accepted by the network operators, which had already settled on Long Term Evolution (LTE) for their 4G needs. WiMAX came first, and was being deployed years before the LTE standard was ratified, but operators preferred LTE for various technical and political reasons.

These days, even Clearwire is planning to deploy LTE, so Intel has less interest in the company. Last week Intel announced it would be selling 10 per cent of its holding (around 10 million shares). That resulted in Clearwire's share price dropping 16 per cent, despite the chip-maker promising the sale wouldn't impact the business relationship between the two.

Sprint, Clearwire's biggest customer, has been seen talking to potential competitor LightSquared, and Clearwire's own end users are suing for better service while its executives seem to be abandoning ship.

Now it seems that Sony Ericsson has such little faith in the future of Clearwire that it no longer cares if the logos look the same, which is surely the most painful cut of all. ®

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