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Clearwire won’t be making WiMax smartphones

Sony Ericsson and Clearwire logos

Back in January, phone maker Sony Ericsson filed a trademark infringement case against WiMax operator Clearwire, claiming Clearwire’s logo has gradually been getting closer and closer to Sony Ericsson’s own. Although a judge denied Sony Ericsson’s request that Clearwire immediately be barred from using its logo, Sony Ericsson now says the matter is resolved and it won’t be pursuing the trademark case against Clearwire. Why? According to Sony Ericsson, it’s because Clearwire told the court it has no plans to make Clearwire-branded smartphones.

Since launching WiMax service in 2008 and offering 4G mobile broadband services—most notably to Sprint—Clearwire has repeatedly indicated it intended to bring out its own Clearwire-branded handsets: a year ago, the company was claiming they would be out during 2010. However, since then the company has gone through layoffs and substantial restructuring, including the departure of former CEO William Morrow two months ago. Former VoiceStream and Western Wireless head John Stanton has been running the company while the firm looks for a new chief—and in the meantime Clearwire has reached a $1 billion settlement with Sprint over wholesale pricing that helps stabilize the company’s financial situation.

By telling the court the company has no plans to market Clearwire branded phones, Clearwire not only sidesteps the trademark infringement suit from Sony Ericsson, but also avoids another confrontation with Sprint, which had historically wanted to be the sole company offering WiMax-enabled devices to consumers in the United States. Although Clearwire continues to offer hotspots and WiMax cards for notebook computers, deciding to stay out of the smartphone market means the company won’t have to go head-to-head with Sprint—again.