LOS ANGELES- LAWFUEL – US Litigation Newswire – On Sunday December 23, 2007, Ring Plus, Inc. filed a motion to disqualify the law firm of Baker Botts from representing AT&T Wireless for ex-parte communications with a Ring Plus official. Mr. Tom Garretson, an officer of Ring Plus as well as a member of Ring Plus’ board, had exchanged several emails with AT&T’s law firm Baker Botts over a period of several months. In one of his emails, Mr. Garretson stated that he “possess a great deal of information that [he] would like to share…patent strengths, weaknesses, Ring Plus legal strategy, claim defense strategy, etc.”
“The significance of this statement, besides the fact that these are hardly the words of a non-lawyer like Mr. Garretson, is the fact that the scope of the communications clearly goes to privileged subject matter of the lawsuit,” according to Ring Plus lawyers in their motion. Furthermore, Ring Plus contends in its motion that Baker Botts partner, Doug Kubehl, stated in a letter the fiction that Ring Plus counsel had represented to him that Mr. Garretson is not “now or ever has been affiliated in any way with Ring Plus, Inc.”
Ring Plus, based in Longview, Texas, is the holder of U.S. patent No. 7,006,608, invented by Karl Seelig et al. and granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on February 28, 2006. This patent claims a software-based algorithm for operation of a telephone system in which a generated sound presentation can replace or overlay a ring-back signal normally heard in a caller’s telephone until such time as a recipient of a telephone call answers (otherwise known as a ring-back tone or “RBT”). AT&T offers Answer Tones Service which is described by AT&T as a way to “Save your friends from having to listen to that plain old ring when they call you. Answer Tones let your friends enjoy cool music before you answer your phone”. The value of RBT replacement technology is globally $2.7 Billion and increasing. Ring Plus filed its lawsuit for patent infringement on April 14, 2006. According to Technology Law 360, Cingular started selling Answer Tones ring back services on its website for $.99 per month in 2005. AT&T’s website is currently offering Answer Tones for $1.99 a download, plus a monthly subscription rate of $.99.
The case number is 2:06-cv-0159.
The Attorneys representing Cingular Wireless LLC, AT&T wireless services Inc. are: Larry Carlson, Doug Kubehl, David Taylor, Michael Jones, and Diane DeVasto.
The Attorneys representing Ring Plus are: Frederic M. Douglas, Jerry L. Mowery, Timothy Midgley, Sang Dang, and George Fountain.