Lawsuit: Cell Carriers Violated Omaha Firm's Patent

Prism Technologies alleges AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile USA and others illegally used patented technology to block non-paying users.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — An Omaha company is suing five cellphone service companies for allegedly violating itspatent on security technology that helps smartphones, tablets and broadband mobile cards access the internet.

Prism Technologies alleges the companies used systems that it "pioneered and patented," even though they had no legal right to do so. Five separate lawsuits in U.S. District Court of Nebraska were filed against AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile USA, Sprint PCS and U.S. Cellular.

The lawsuits say the company secured a patent for its inventions in October 2007. The company is seeking royalty payments with interest, as well as a judge's order for the companies to stop the alleged violations. In each lawsuit, attorneys for Prism say the company will "be greatly and irreparably harmed" if thepatent violations continue.

The company's technology allows carriers to block users who haven't paid for Internet service, and determines whether a user is on a limited data plan.

A spokesman for Prism Technologies and several company attorneys declined to comment. Jonathan Caplan, a Prism attorney based in New York, said the company did not want to speak publicly about the lawsuit.

In a statement, attorneys for Prism Technologies said the cellphone companies violated two patents when they used the technology, which controls access to "computer resources that allow user devices such as smartphones, tablets (and) broadband mobile cards to browse the Internet."

Representatives for T-Mobile and Verizon declined to comment, and a Sprint spokesman said he needed to consult with his company's legal department before speaking. Messages left with AT&T and U.S. Cellular were not returned.

Prism has filed similar federal lawsuits against PayPal, Microsoft and other companies. The Microsoft and PayPal cases were settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

Prism Technologies Group has offered information technology support and consulting since 2003, according to its website.

More in Operations