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Phone Makers Patent 'Radiation Shields' To Combat Cancer Risk
Mobile phone manufacturers have patented "radiation shields" to reduce the risk of brain tumors among consumers, despite their claims that phone use presents no serious health hazards, a British newspaper has reported. Although the companies dismissed the report, it could be used as ammunition in lawsuits recently filed by consumers against manufacturers.
According to The Times of London, leading phone makers Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY) and Motorola (NYSE: MOT) have created components to protect users from the radio frequency radiation emitted by handsets.
Phone makers rejected the claim that the patents indicate that they accept the existence of health hazards.
"Patenting new innovations is a standard practice," Nokia spokesperson Keith Nowak told Wireless NewsFactor. "Patents are often filed before inventions are ready for commercial use, and others turn out not to be technically viable at all. Therefore, Nokia, like many large technology companies, has an extensive patent portfolio which includes designs and devices which are not currently used in production models."
Nowak added that Nokia's products meet emissions safety standards set by government and administrative agencies, so "the fact that Nokia may have alternative means of meeting these standards which have not been incorporated into current complying products is not relevant."
In addition, Nokia vice president William Plummer told the Times that, "There is no contradiction here. The patents talk of 'suggestions' of health risks. A third of our employees are engaged in research and development and it is a natural course of business that they then file for patents."
"Extensive research over the course of many years has not established any conclusive evidence of a link between adverse health effects and the use of mobile phones meeting those standards and regulations," Elston said.
Ericsson spokesperson Michael Westmark told Reuters that the patents were designed to improve the performance of mobile phones by reducing the radio waves they use, not specifically to prevent brain tumors, and denied the inventions were an admission that using the company's phones presented a health hazard.
Although studies by the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine -- as well as the National Cancer Institute and a number of international health authorities that have studied the issue -- have found no definitive link between cell phone use and health problems such as cancer, scientists acknowledge that more research is needed.
Angelos is seeking a judgment that includes requiring all manufacturers to supply headsets at no cost to all purchasers or lessees, or to reimburse any consumer who has purchased a headset, as well as punitive damages. His is one of several lawsuits filed against phone manufacturers in the United States.