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SoftView files patent suit against Apple, AT&T

Apple and iPhone carrier AT&T are both named in a new lawsuit by SoftView, claiming patent infringement over the display of Web pages on mobile devices.

Software developer SoftView launched a suit against Apple and iPhone carrier AT&T on Monday, claiming the two are infringing on its patent covering the display of Web pages on mobile devices.

SoftView makes a product of the same name, which provides graphic viewers and Web browsers for PDAs, cell phones, smartphones, and other small-screen devices. The SoftView Web site says the company has been developing its products since 1982 and prominently displays its three patent numbers on its home page.

The patent that seems to be SoftView's playing card is No. 7461353, which covers the scalable display of Internet content on mobile devices. The patent's abstract starts off by describing this as "mobile devices enabled to support resolution-independent scalable display of Internet (Web) content to allow Web pages to be scaled (zoomed) and panned for better viewing on smaller screen sizes." Filed in 2005, the patent itself was issued in 2008.

In a nutshell, Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch, which scale Web pages down to a smaller size, are the objects of SoftView's complaint. But mobile Safari is the specific target, according to MacTech. And as the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the U.S., AT&T is named as well.

Through the lawsuit filed in Delaware District Court, SoftView is looking for an injunction against Apple and an undisclosed amount of money in damages. E-mail and a phone call to SoftView for further details were not returned.

Apple was hit with a similar lawsuit in 2008 by an inventor who claimed to have patented the idea of mobile Web surfing. EMG Technology, which filed the suit, recently added the iPad to the iPhone and iPod Touch on the list of infringing products. The case is now pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

In the meantime, Apple is wrestling with a round of other lawsuits over patent issues. Late last year, Nokia sued Apple, claiming that the iPhone infringes on several Nokia patents. Apple countersued, alleging that Nokia was in fact infringing on certain Apple smartphone patents. Nokia then upped the ante by launching a new suit over the iPad.

In March, Apple also sued handset maker HTC over iPhone patents. On Wednesday, HTC filed a patent complaint against Apple. Also, last month Apple countersued Kodak over digital photography patents just three months after Kodak had initially sued Apple and Research in Motion.