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
, 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