Irvine-based cell phone designer Hop-on is on a self-declared, patent-fueled "roll." Earlier this month, the company delivered two solid punches to the mobile phone industry by announcing it had been granted design patents covering both MP3 speaker phones and flip-phone mobile phone designs. Now, in a move which may have other cell phone makers and mobile operators quaking in their boots, Hop-on has announced maker Motorola has licensed Hop-on’s MP3 phone and flip-phone patents for an undisclosed amount.
The agreement is an extension of an earlier contract between the companies set up in 2001; in granting the license, Hop-on says it values the integrity of Motorola and "decided to grant the license without any formal litigation" stemming from Motorola products which infringe on the patents.
That a major manufacturer like Motorola has decision to execute a license to Hop-on’s patents rather than attack their validity (in what would undoubtedly be protracted series of legal proceeding) may have other major phone manufacturers and mobile operators carefully considering their position regarding Hop-on. Not only does Motorola’s capitulation lend credence to Hop-on’s patent claims, but it also gives the company financial resources to engage in legal proceeding should other manufacturers choose to challenge the patents.
Hop-on is wasting no time looking towards Finland for its next payday, with Hop-on president Peter Michaels singling out Nokia in almost incomprehensible remarks: "I think the tables have turned on Nokia and all they can do is citing the tremendous difficulty of prevailing on a patent claim." Michaels concluded: "If these carriers want to continue to use my design they will need to compensate us for that design."
Hop-on claims its patents are currently being used without license in MP3 and flip-phone designs offered by all major U.S. carriers and mobile phone manufacturers.
But Hop-on isn’t content to trumpet only its license agreement with Motorola: in a separate announcemnt, the company is opening non-exclusive licensing to a utility patent covering universal chargers used in mobile phones and other consumer electronics. Hop-on claims its patent covers the use of rechargeable battery systems, including USB chargers, interchangeable connectors, and polyvalent electrical adapters. Although Hop-on claims most communications companies have already infringed on Hop-on’s patents, Michaels hopes to "encourage competition" by offering manufacturers, distributors, and retailers the opportunity to secure non-exclusive, non-discriminatory licenses to Hop-on’s charging technology. Hop-on filed for the patent in August, 2004; it was granted in February, 2007.