The Washington Research Foundation has sued mobile phone makers Nokia, Samsung Electronics and Matsushita-owned Panasonic for infringing on a patent for wireless Bluetooth technology.
"Defendants have manufactured, used, imported into the United States, sold and offered for sale devices which, or the use of which, infringes at least the '963' patent," Washington Research Foundation said in a complaint filed at the United States Western District Court of Washington State at Seattle.
In particular the research institute targeted products containing Bluetooth chips from British chip maker CSR, which is the world market leader for the chips which connect electronic gadgets such as cellphones, headsets and laptops.
Shares in CSR, whose Bluetooth chip global market share is more than 50%, fell 4.3% at 631 pence in London, underperforming a 0.4 percent lower European technology index.
CSR, which was not immediately available to comment, was not sued by the research group.
The research group set apart CSR rival Broadcom from the United States, which has acquired a license to use the radio frequency receiver technology patented in 1999, the Washington Research Foundation said.
Nokia declined to comment. "We are currently studying the claims," said spokeswoman Eija-Riitta Huovinen.
Samsung and Panasonic were not immediately available to comment.
Engineer Jaap Haartsen at Swedish mobile phone maker Ericsson has been credited with the invention of Bluetooth during his research work in the second half of the 1990s.
Ericsson has donated the technology, royalty-free, to create a large market for the wire replacement.
Since then, hundreds of millions of mobile phones, headsets and laptops are equipped with Bluetooth chips every year.