In a move that could spell heap big trouble for that "little wireless standard that could," aka Bluetooth, phone manufacturers Nokia, Samsung and Panasonic have just been sued for violating a patent that purports to underly the ubiquitous wireless standard. University of Washington scientist Edwin Suominen apparently obtained a patent in 1999 for a "simplified high-frequency broadband tuner and tuning method," which he now claims is infringed upon by the free Bluetooth standard developed by Ericsson and pals in the 90s. It seems like prior art would clear this right up, since the Bluetooth standard was set in 1998, but apparently chip manufacturer Broadcom thought there was enough weight to the claim to purchase a license to the dubiously patented technology. Other manufacturers might not be so "lucky," with Bluetooth device makers selling to the US market specifically at risk right now, but with a win in this lawsuit potentially putting the whole of the Bluetooth industry at risk of royalty payments on the heretofore free technology. We'll be keeping an eye on how this one goes down; Nokia says it's "currently studying the claims," while the actual chip manufacturer, CSR, which is unnamed in the suit since it doesn't sell its products directly, says that "The suit is without merit in relation to CSR's Bluetooth chips, and CSR will defend its products vigorously."

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Bluetooth patent suit hits Nokia, Samsung and Panasonic