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Canadian firm sues the tech world

Canadian firm sues the tech world

If you're on a wireless connection, you'd better find an ethernet cable quick or fear a lawsuit yourself.

Patent lawsuits are common – they’re essentially the bread and butter of the 21st century technology world. What’s not so common is for a single company to file a lawsuit against 22 different companies at the same time over the same issues. Wi-LAN, a Canadian-based company which is the self-proclaimed leaders in technology licensing, has filed a lawsuit with big-name defendants including computer manufacturers such as: Apple, Acer, Gateway, and HP; WiFi equipment manufacturers such including Atheros Communications, Belkin, Broadcom, and D-Link; and two of the largest electronics retailers: Best Buy and Circuit City, just to top things off.

The lawsuit concerns three patents: patent numbers 5,282,222, RE37,802, and 5,956,323. Basically, all three patents concern power solutions for WiFi device components. However, none of these are actually products that Wi-LAN has produced or manufactured. Wi-LAN only deals with intellectual property; essentially, the company files patents and then sues people when they infringe on those patents. Wi-LAN's own website has a ticker to keep people informed of how each of its litigations is going.

"Wi-LAN has successfully negotiated patent licensing deals with a number of companies covering a broad range of patent families and technologies," claims Wi-LAN’s CEO, Jim Skippen. "Our existing licensing agreements are a strong endorsement of the strength and validity of our valuable patent portfolio. While we prefer to resolve patent infringement through business discussions, we have consistently maintained that litigation was always a possibility when negotiations do not result in a license within a reasonable time."

I’m not sure what a reasonable amount of time entails, but expecting 22 companies to fold for these lawsuits certainly doesn’t sound reasonable to me. As with all patent infringement suits, these will have to be handled on a case-by-case basis, so don’t expect results anytime soon.

Is it just me, or are patent lawsuits in the technology world getting out of hand? How about an entire company devoted to buying patents and then milking licensees? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

22 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
liratheal 2nd November 2007, 14:05 Quote
That is a shade over the top.

Looking at the companies listed, it all smacks a bit like "We're suing the people with the most money", to me anyway :/
Hells_Bliss 2nd November 2007, 14:07 Quote
this company represents all that is wrong with the patent process. Their only function is to patent a process, not actually invent something, and then sue the **** out of people. Talk about money grubbing b*st*rds
[USRF]Obiwan 2nd November 2007, 15:23 Quote
Sick patentsystem, Sick Health insurance system, Sick Housefunding system, Sick game rating system, Sick gunlaw system. And still their are people who say: "pride to be american"

I rest my case.
chrisb2e9 2nd November 2007, 15:25 Quote
*sigh* could we remove the word "Canadian" from the title please? I dont want people to associate this great country with a company like this one.
Veles 2nd November 2007, 15:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [USRF]Obiwan
Sick patentsystem, Sick Health insurance system, Sick Housefunding system, Sick game rating system, Sick gunlaw system. And still their are people who say: "pride to be american"

I rest my case.

I think you missed the bit where it said this was a Canadian company.
samkiller42 2nd November 2007, 15:41 Quote
We could wait a week or two, and another new's story pop's up titled 'Canadian firm bought out by 22 companies' heh.
Personally, this looks like a publicity stunt, in one way or another, well, it did work, to some extent.

Sam
Firehed 2nd November 2007, 15:47 Quote
I hate patent trolls.
Hells_Bliss 2nd November 2007, 15:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [USRF]Obiwan
Sick patentsystem, Sick Health insurance system, Sick Housefunding system, Sick game rating system, Sick gunlaw system. And still their are people who say: "pride to be american"

I rest my case.

http://img119.imageshack.us/img119/1410/beatingadeadhorserj8.gif
Cupboard 2nd November 2007, 16:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by liratheal

Looking at the companies listed, it all smacks a bit like "We're suing the people with the most money", to me anyway :/
It would make little business sense to sue those with no money:(
But I agree, it is a bit ridiculous.
Breach 2nd November 2007, 16:16 Quote
Yeah, I smell patent troll all over that company. Hopefully the 22 they sued will bury them. IBM vs SCO anyone :D
koola 2nd November 2007, 16:25 Quote
Open Source ***

I hope these 22 companies gang up and clean that company out.
Kipman725 2nd November 2007, 16:57 Quote
first and third one especialy shouldn't have beeen granted by the patent office the second one I have no idea what the hell it's on about but I don't rearly care. Despite what the law says patents mostly stiffle progress and companies like this are leaches of socity.
Anakha 2nd November 2007, 17:13 Quote
I think all three of these patents can be smacked down with "Prior Art" fairly easily. 1997/1998? Wasn't GSM around then? And I know that SkyTV was using DSS to scramble their satellite TV signals back then, too.
Almightyrastus 2nd November 2007, 17:42 Quote
This is one of the problems with the US patent system, the patent granted is retroactive from when the product was invented rather than starting from the time the patent was filed like here in the UK. This means that you can take a look at what someone is doing then file a patent later on the technology they are using then sure them for breaching it even if they have been using it for years.
Bungle 2nd November 2007, 17:54 Quote
Wouldn't surprise me to find Gordon Gecko running the show at WI-LAN. Fine example of Corporate greed for all to see.
C-Sniper 2nd November 2007, 19:52 Quote
I think that the patent law should be that unless you USE your patents in designs or implement them into what you are doing (hoarding patents excluded) then the idea should be fair game.
IanW 3rd November 2007, 05:47 Quote
The defendants may be able to call "Laches" on Wi-LAN.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wikipedia
Laches is an equitable defense, or doctrine, in an action at law. The person invoking laches is asserting that an opposing party has "slept on its rights", and that, as a result of this delay, that other party is no longer entitled to its original claim.
Javerh 3rd November 2007, 08:25 Quote
Quote:

That looks more like a dead llama
completemadness 3rd November 2007, 18:14 Quote
I don't understand how you can wait, like years, to file the complaints

when the product is released, sure i could understand there being a few months to complain, but waiting until everyone is using it to sue them is lame
r0z|3o0n 4th November 2007, 12:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by completemadness
I don't understand how you can wait, like years, to file the complaints

when the product is released, sure i could understand there being a few months to complain, but waiting until everyone is using it to sue them is lame

The larger the commercial uptake the larger the potential damages they will be awarded if, god forbid, they are found to be correct in their allegations.
IanW 4th November 2007, 17:44 Quote
That's what my previous comment referred to. Laches refers to not acting in a "timely manner" to protect your property.

If the wifi companies being named can convince a court that Wi-Lan deliberately waited for some nice, fat victims before launching their lawsuit, then the suit could get thrown out altogether.
boiled_elephant 5th November 2007, 18:01 Quote
Let's hope it rolls that way. Law is notoriously illogical and merciless nowadays, though:
http://infohost.nmt.edu/~armiller/commonsen.htm

The idea of taking anything to court is scary, because it's as much like tossing a coin as putting cases forward before a sensible judge.
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