Universities Get Into Patent Trolling Game; Sue Over Bluetooth

from the pay-up,-pay-up,-pay-up dept

Can’t get far these days without running into yet another pointless patent lawsuit. The latest comes from the University of Washington, which has asked a research foundation to sue Nokia, Samsung and Matsushita, claiming all three are daring to offer Bluetooth technology without first licensing the technology from them. And people wonder why standards bodies these days dissolve into deadlocked stagnation for years. It’s all about the patents. No one wants to give up on the version of the standard that might include some tiny bit of their own (probably overly broad and obvious) patented technology, because it’s just so damn lucrative. The end result is that it slows down or kills various useful standards that would help move industries forward. Once again, that seems to go entirely against the purpose of the patent system.

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Comments on “Universities Get Into Patent Trolling Game; Sue Over Bluetooth”

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misanthropic humanist says:

lets av it

Bluetooth is packet radio. There are PR protocols using RTTY (like morse but FSK encoded) going back to the 1950s that predate TCPIP.

Let’s see the patent so we can utterly destroy it here.

“However, it said that the three companies had all sold devices based on chipsets made by British-based CSR, which had not been licensed.”

So why not produce their own VLSI that implements the protocol standards using their own technology?

This is just anti-progressive, destructive behaviour. Is that what the University of Washington has become?

Fucking luddites.

Anonymous Coward says:


…or not, the current system is stifling productivity and innovation in hi-tech fields. Like many other lawsuit activities the major cost seems to be born by the defenders, which makes them choose to simply pay the bullying patent holder if they can. Even more interesting is the patent stalemate which I’m reading more and more about; company A create a technology. Company B declares patent infringement, so demands royalties or court. Company A says forget it and takes route 3; don’t license or sell the technology and shuts down the research. Company B, being a patent troll just sits on the technology (they probably don’t even have a prototype) waiting for the next innovator with deeper pockets to come along Yeah, that’s really good for the economy.

thecestan says:

patents or no patents

The real question is who or what should prevail? Individual rights or corporate rights. Protocols dating before the Darpa TCP/IP exist however the US and then world adopted the protocol and people began writing and designing for the protocol. Beware the idea of a corporate “right” to tech and patented ideas. This precedent could quickly lead to very dangerous social standards that millions have fought to overturn or prevent. This isnt about pregression but social regression… consider the price before jimping so quickly for corporate greed.

Ed French (user link) says:

Maybe not all bad...

I know this is counter to the crowd, especially as none of the commentators (including me!) so far actually know what’s being contested.
Bluetooth isn’t just packet radio, and certainly wasn’t a technical “walk in the park”, so it’s probable that there is some substantial invention in the detail of how it’s been done.
From time-to-time it’s suggested that Universities should put all their IP in the public domain, but my own experience is that this has proved to help no-one. The stuff Universities tend to brew is usually very early stage and needs loads of further R&D to be proved, let alone turned into products. If no-one sees a way of getting some return for the work, then in my experience they really wont spend the dollars to do so.

Tyshaun says:

Re: Maybe not all bad...

Not being a lawyer I did a search on patent law and found this site:


What troubles me is how I’ve heard so many people assert that “the purpose of patents is…” when after reading this article the only assertion I can comfortable make about what the patent system is intended for is that it is completely dependent on the prevailing times. The article mentions that the original framers were very pro patent, however at various points in history (like the depression) patents have been seen as monopolistic and have fallen out of favor.

Given the general pendulum nature of how patents have been historically viewed in this country I would think it wouldn’t be a sound decision to assert that patents are ment to do anything. Unfortunately the answer seems to be more muddied than that and in fact we have to look at the context they are being used in the current timeframe. For now, as far as I can see it, the “purpose” of patents is a a method to generate proitected revenue streams and any contribution to the greater public good is definately not being emphasized (in recent history anyway, but who knows what changes in administration, technology, and public perception will bring).

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Maybe not all bad...

Given the general pendulum nature of how patents have been historically viewed in this country I would think it wouldn’t be a sound decision to assert that patents are ment to do anything.

This is entirely false. The purpose of the patent system is clearly laid out in the Constitution: to promote the progress of useful arts and science.

While it’s true that the view of patents has changed drastically over the years, our patent system was set up to do one thing and one thing only. The fact that it does not do that (and often hinders that) should be a problem. To dismiss complaints against the patent system because at one time it was a way for the Queen to reward her friends and cash in is pretty pointless.

We accept the idea that promoting innovation is a good thing. If you don’t, then that’s a different discussion. That said, if the patent system is designed to do something other than promote innovation, that should be discussed separately, because it goes beyond the Constitutional mandate of the patent system.

I also strongly disagree with your assertion that the framers were very pro-patent. As we’ve discussed at length, both Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin were very wary about the potential problems the patent system creates.

Alexander Pensky says:

Re: Re: Re: Maybe not all bad...

Although I generally agree with you about patent abuse and its harmful effect on innovation, remember that INNOVATION and STANDARDIZATION are not the same thing. It could be argued that in this case, the patent holders are using the system in exactly the way it was intended, to enable smoother and faster standardization. Since a patent must be published and explained, standards bodies can immediately set standards based on the technology, every manufacturer licenses it from the inventor, and users are happy. Without the patents, users would have to wait much longer for the technology to become standard, because it would then be a trade secret.

(No comment on whether this particular patent is valid or not…)

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