Virgin Mobile, MetroPCS in legal battle over phone flashing

A federal judge threw out Virgin Mobile USA's claim that MetroPCS was meddling with its contracts by using its MetroFlash service. However, the judge did not dismiss some trademark infringement claims that Virgin Mobile brought against MetroPCS.

The whole dispute centers on a service that MetroPCS began in the summer of 2008 to flash competitors' CDMA handsets so that they can work on MetroPCS' network. Virgin Mobile, which subsidizes some of the cost of its handsets and then recoups those expenses through monthly fees, asked MetroPCS to stop selling the service. In response, MetroPCS filed a claim seeking to show that it does not violate any trademarks or interfere with Virgin Mobile's contracts. Virgin Mobile then counter-sued with trademark infringement and contract interference claims.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Fitzwater said that Virgin Mobile's contract with the original customer did not carry over once the custoemr flashed their phone for MetroPCS' network. However, Fitzwater said that the reflashing might constitute a trademark violation by turning the phone into a product that still "uses" Virgin Mobile's trademarks.

Virgin Mobile spokeswoman Jayne Wallace declined to comment to FierceWireless. A MetroPCS spokeswoman also declined to comment.

For more:
- see this Courthouse News Service article

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