DoCoMo files legal action to bar Softbank’s 'Easy Mobile' phone

18 Mar 2008

Japan’s leading mobile operator by subscribers, NTT DoCoMo, and handset maker Fujitsu have filed an unprecedented legal action in the Tokyo District Court in a bid to prevent lower-cost mobile rival SoftBank Mobile from selling what they claim is a ‘copy’ of one of their phones. DoCoMo and Fujitsu are seeking a court order to stop the manufacture and sale of the ‘Kantan (Easy) Mobile SoftBank 821T’ mobile handset, which is made by Toshiba, insisting that the model is very similar to its ‘FOMA Raku-Raku Phone’ handset manufactured by Fujitsu and therefore in breach of Japan’s Unfair Competition Prevention Act. The action is the first of its kind in the history of the Japanese mobile market and illustrates the intensifying competition in the country as operators look to put more emphasis on hardware to differentiate their services. The FOMA Raku-Raku Phone is targeted at a first-time or more elderly user who wants a very simple, user-friendly device. DoCoMo and Fujitsu allege their rivals have violated intellectual property law by launching a model that is ‘extremely similar’ to the model that has shipped more than twelve million units since 1999. Softbank launched its version this month and said: ‘We will make a rebuttal after examining the substance of the injunction request and consulting with Toshiba.’

Japan, Fujitsu, NTT DOCOMO, SoftBank Corp