Microsoft denies wrongdoing in Sendo suit

Microsoft Corp., responding to a lawsuit, denied it stole Sendo Holdings PLC’s trade secrets to enter the mobile phone market and launched a countersuit against the U.K. handset maker alleging breach of contract.

Microsoft on Feb. 4 also filed motions to dismiss and transfer the case, according to the docket report at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, where Sendo sued Microsoft in December.

Sendo confirmed Microsoft’s response to its suit and the countersuit, but declined to comment.

The request to transfer the case “could be a delay tactic,” a Sendo spokeswoman said.

Sendo, a privately held Birmingham, England, company that makes unbranded mobile phones, partnered with Microsoft in 1999 to develop phones running Microsoft’s Windows Powered Smartphone software. Microsoft in 2001 invested about US$12 million in Sendo, giving it a less than 5 per cent share in the company.

The companies seemed to be the perfect couple until October last year when mobile phone operator Orange SA launched a smart phone based on Microsoft’s software, but made by Taiwan’s High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC). A month later, Sendo dropped Microsoft and said it would work with rival Nokia Corp.’s software.

Sendo sued Microsoft in December, charging that the software maker had a “secret plan” to “plunder” Sendo and quickly obtain the technology necessary to “enter and ultimately dominate” the market created by the convergence of mobile phones and computers. Sendo is seeking damages of hundreds of millions of dollars, according to sources close to the company.

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