Internet software company Openwave Systems (NASDAQ:OPWV) Wednesday filed a complaint against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Research In Motion (TSE:RIM) (NASDAQ:RIMM), alleging infringement of five of its patents relating to mobile Internet technology.
Openwave said the iPhone and BlackBerry makers had infringed its patents for technologies used to connect smartphones and tablet computers to the Internet. Openwave's software enables companies to analyze and optimize traffic on their wireless networks.
As at 2.14pm EDT, shares of Openwave soared 22% to $1.80, RIM was down 0.98% on the Nasdaq at $32.22 and Apple shares were 1.7% lower at $383.37.
Elsewhere in the mobile communications sector, Motorola Mobility Holdings (NYSE:MMI) gained a cent at $37.77 while Finnish handset maker Nokia (NYSE:NOK) was up 0.47% at $6.47 and Germany's Siemens (NYSE:SI) added 49 cents at $103.
Wednesday's move by Openwave is the latest salvo in an ongoing battle to secure the rights to technological infrastructure such as microchips and software, giving rise to so-called "patent trolls", companies that may have no plans to market their patents but aggressively defend them against multiple parties.
The prices paid in recent patent sales have also spiked. Nortel Networks, the Canadian telecoms equipment maker that is currently under bankruptcy protection, raised $4.5 billion in its recent fire sale of patents.
Openwave's CEO Ken Denman said: "Before filing these complaints, we approached both of these companies numerous times in an attempt to negotiate a license of our technology with them and did not receive a substantive response. In the end, litigation is the only way we can defend our rights against these large companies that have effectively refused to license the use of the technologies we invented."
The Internet software company owns about 200 patents and filed Wednesday's complaint at the International Trade Commission in Washington D.C. and also at a federal district court in Delaware.
Openwave said it expected a favorable ruling from the ITC which could push RIM and Apple to pay "very substantial" licensing fees.
Canada's Research In Motion is also involved in a possible Internet software patent dispute with Apple. Earlier this week, Research in Motion filed an opposition to Apple getting a Canadian WebKit trademark. WebKit is an open source application used in Web browsers to lay out pages using the HTML5 programming language.
Research in Motion and Apple have so far remained tight-lipped about this dispute.