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Apple, AT&T face lawsuit over iPhone voice mail tech

Posted: 06 Dec 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:patent infringement lawsuit? voice mail technology? Klausner Technologies?

Klausner Technologies Inc. this week said it has filed a $360 million lawsuit against Apple Inc. and AT&T, claiming the Apple iPhone infringes on Klausner's patented voice mail technology.

Klausner also filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas a separate $300 million lawsuit that names Comcast, Cablevision Systems and eBay's Skype, claiming their products also infringe on the same patents. Klausner is seeking payment for damages and royalties in all the lawsuits.

'Visual voice mail'
The defendants are accused of infringing on Klausner's U.S. Patents numbered 5,572,576 and 5,283,818. In the Apple and AT&T suit, Klausner claims the iPhone uses the company's invention that allows users to selectively retrieve voice messages via the gadget's in-box display. Apple, according to the plaintiff, has described the iPhone's "visual voice mail" as "one of the greatest advances in the history of mankind...without question."

Representatives for Apple and AT&T weren't immediately available to comment on the lawsuit.

Apple has been sued as the designer of the iPhone, while AT&T is being accused of patent infringement for selling the device.

In the other multidefendant lawsuit, Klausner claims the same technology has been used without permission in Cablevision's Optimum Voicemail, Comcast's Digital Voice Voicemail and eBay's Skype Voicemail.

Klausner has sued before over its voice mail technology. Past defendants have included Time Warner's AOL and Internet telephony company Vonage Holdings. Both companies have settled and are licensees. "With the signing of each new licensee, we continue to receive further confirmation of the strength of our visual voice mail patents," said Dovel & Luner, the California law firm representing Klausner.

String of lawsuits
The latest suit is one of several Apple faces over the iPhone. A California man in October filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple, accusing the company of violating the state's antitrust laws by prohibiting iPhone buyers from using a cellphone service other than AT&T's. The telephone company is the exclusive service provider in the United States for the iPhone.

Apple also faces at least three lawsuits centered on the iPhone battery. The cases in general accuse Apple of failing to clearly tell buyers that the iPhone battery is designed so it can't be easily replaced by consumers. As a result, iPhone users have to pay Apple for installation, as well as the cost of the battery.

- Antone Gonsalves

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