Court denies Sprint's attempt to block iPCS over WiMAX

A court struck down Sprint Nextel's attempt to block its affiliate iPCS from arguing that Sprint's decision to partner with Clearwire to provide mobile WiMAX service violates its exclusive agreements with iPCS.

The Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., denied Sprint's motion to block a complaint iPCS brought in January against the carrier. At that time, the Circuit Court said that a 2006 ruling on whether Sprint's acquisition of Nextel violated its exclusivity agreement with iPCS also applied to Sprint's WiMAX operations. "Sprint and those acting in concert with Sprint may not compete against iPCS in iPCS' exclusive service areas," Cook County Circuit Judge Kathleen Pantle said in her ruling.

However, Pantle's ruling was not to go into effect until another Circuit Court judge, the one who made the original 2006 ruling, decided on a claim by Sprint to dismiss the original ruling based on new evidence. This latest ruling effectively denies Sprint's claim.

The affiliate is seeking, among other things, a permanent injunction preventing Sprint from "obtaining directly or indirectly the benefits of advanced technology without providing that technology and sharing its benefits with its affiliates."

Schaumburg, Ill.-based iPCS has claimed that it holds exclusive rights to market Sprint products in certain areas in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Nebraska, along with bordering parts of Indiana and Missouri. Sprint has indicated it will act as an MVNO to sell Clearwire's WiMAX service under the brand "Sprint 4G."

Sprint spokesman Matt Sullivan said iPCS "fails to tell the whole story."

"The judge also granted our motion to dismiss several of the claims brought by iPCS, including one for speculative monetary damages, which we view as a positive outcome for Sprint," he said. "It's also important to point out that in permitting iPCS' claim to go forward, the judge struck a portion of the claim from iPCS' complaint, noting that iPCS' allegation that it depends 'totally on Sprint for new technology and technological upgrades is inconsistent' with the parties' agreements." 

For more:
- see this release

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