Wi-LAN Sues RIM: Two Canadian Firms Duke Out Patent Fight… In East Texas, Of Course

from the ah,-east-texas dept

Turns out that Canadian patent holders love East Texas just as much as American companies. The news today covers how Canadian wireless patent holder Wi-LAN has now sued RIM in East Texas, concerning patents on mobile handheld devices. RIM is also a Canadian company (and also heavily involved in patent disputes). Isn’t it great to see two Canadian firms choosing East Texas as the best place to fight over patents?

Wi-LAN is a company that we’ve discussed in the past. It worked on some technologies for wireless networks, but was unable to successfully market products commercially. In other words, it failed in the market. So, instead, it started focusing on aggressively enforcing its patent portfolio, suing a ton of companies who did anything wirelessly. As with so many public companies that turn into patent hoarders these days, it also has a very vocal and active set of day traders who will defend it to no end (see the comments on that link above).

RIM, of course, is also a well known company that we’ve written about many times. The maker of the super popular Blackberry wireless device, it became an aggressive filer of patent infringement lawsuits. That, in turn, led some patent holders from a non-practicing entity called NTP to sue RIM over some other patents — eventually leading to a $612.5 million payout by RIM (despite the fact that NTP’s patents were found to be invalid).

This latest case seems like it ties together so many different stories. You’ve got a failed business trying to use its patents to hold back the company that won; it’s got Wi-LAN who has been aggressively trying to tax just about every wireless innovation with its patents; it’s got RIM, who has been on both sides of a ton of questionable patent lawsuits; and it all takes place in East Texas. Who could ask for anything more?

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Companies: rim, wi-lan

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Comments on “Wi-LAN Sues RIM: Two Canadian Firms Duke Out Patent Fight… In East Texas, Of Course”

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29 Comments
Devil's Advocate says:

Not that uncommon...

Canadian companies can hold US Patents. So it’s not uncommon to see them litigated in US court. Hell, many companies in the Canada hold a ton of various bureaucratic elements in the US. Most large companies have Trademarks, patents and copyrights held in the US.

However, the whole “East Texas Jackpot” ruse is getting annoying. Someone should really conduct an investigation into whether or not some of those Judges are getting kickbacks from Patent Hoarders.

angry dude says:

horseshit

The lawsuit is about US patents and can be brought only in US jurisdiction

EDT has been (so far) one of the most qualified and speedy courts for resolving patent disputes in US
EDT is used to resolve patent disputes not only by small plaintiffs but by major multinational corps like Cisco
(Cisco regularly sues competitors while being sued by small patent holders all in the same EDT district)
But lately EDT seems to slow down so the focus might shift to some other districts

Mike Masnick has no clue at all

angry dude says:

more horseshit

“In other words, it failed in the market”

Mikey, don’t you see the difference between “failed in the market” and “being robbed” ?

Like if you carry a hundred dollar bill in your hand and I approach you in the street, kick your ass and take your money from you, some observer might say that you failed to keep your money, right ?

Anonymous Coward says:

“…(see the comments on that link above).)

Interesting, albeit time consuming, ebb and flow of comments. Seems to me they could be titled “Wi-LAN Supporters v. Michael “Jeremiah Wright” Masnick”. One thing came through loud and clear. M”JW”M has strong views about the patent system, but to some degree they are predicated on a somewhat limited familiarity with how patent prosecution before the USPTO is actually conducted. I know, the rejoinder will be “What makes you think I am not?” In response all I can say is that one needs to look no further than the many responses that in essence state “The darn thing was obvious and should never have issued. NTP somehow bamboozled the USPTO into granting an overreaching patent(s), and we are the less for this because innovation has been stifled.” Of course, there is no factual analysis of the actual claims demonstrating this to be the case, other than the District Court and CAFC decisions upholding the patents and determining they had been infringed. BTW, a petition for a writ of certiorari was filed with the Supreme Court by RIM, which petition was denied by the Court.

“…NTP’s patents were found to be invalid).”

Not quite accurate. Those proceedings are ongoing, with most recently an investigation begun based upon allegations that senior managers at the USPTO met privately with RIM prior to the initial decisions being made on the reexams requested by RIM. In a reexam this is an absolute “no-no”, and if the allegations are show to have merit then RIM could well find itself in a world of major hurt.

Will NTP come out of the reexams with its patents intact? In all likelihood some of the claims will ultimately disappear, some will remain as is, and some will be amended to overcome any pertinent published prior art disclosing salient features of such claims. The patents will be bloodied and bruised, but they will still have portions that live on to be asserted another day against other alleged infringers.

Little Techdirt Lemming Punk says:

Re: Re:

AC -> “In all likelihood some of the claims will ultimately disappear, some will remain as is, and some will be amended to overcome any pertinent published prior art disclosing salient features of such claims. The patents will be bloodied and bruised, but they will still have portions that live on to be asserted another day against other alleged infringers.”

And this is based upon what, your opinion I suppose.

Sounds like you are a supporter of the patent system as it is today, any patents out there that you think should not have been granted ? I’m guessing the answer to that is no. What do you think about the infamous one click patent ?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“…based upon what…”

30 years as a lawyer who has studied how the law works. Remember, I used the word “likelihood”. There is always a possibility a patent can be invalidated and no amount of amending can resurrect it. Experience informs me, however, that this is not very often the case.

“…supporter of the patent system…”

This is actually something I have continually thought about my entire career. For example, far too many inventors and attorneys alike are prone to use the system even when business circumstances dictate that there are better, more cost effective ways to achieve the same goals. Moreover, while most inventors are like proud parents (Isn’t this the most beautiful child you have ever seen?!?), there are many lawyers who for whatever reason seem unable or unwilling to inject business reality into the situation.

“…any patents out there that you think should not have been granted?”

I am sure there are, but this does not mean that in the case of the work by Mr. Campana and his co-inventors I am prepared to proclaim they are invalid without having closely examined the applications and their respective prosecution histories.

“What do you think about the infamous one click patent?”

I have never read the patent or any court decisions associated with it, so I really do not have an opinion.

Little Techdirt Lemming Punk says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Ok. And btw, thanks for answering, I didn’t really expect it.

I’m curious, of the patents that should not have been issued do you think any of them are being abused for profit ?

Note, I mentioned the one click patent because it is possibly the poster child for patent abuse.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Wow, ok, I think I am going to make a T-Shirt that says “I hate Mike Masnick!” and sell them, I bet I would make a FORTUNE. I mean seriously, I see these comments all the time ragging on him, yet people continue to read the articles anyway. I think he is just popular to hate. WAY TO GO MIKE!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“I’m curious, of the patents that should not have been issued do you think any of them are being abused for profit?”

This is a fair question, but candidly speaking it is not one that I can readily answer. Reasonable minds can differ about whether a particular circumstance is abusive or not abusive.

I can say, however, that there are two types of conduct I find “abusive”. The first is a company who “blows off” a patentee without even so much as even lifting a finger to determine if the patent has any merit. The second is the relatively recent phenomena of investment/equity groups treating patents like stocks and bonds.

As for the “One-Click” patent, I am not at all sure it exemplifies abusive conduct. The patent was prosecuted by a highly respected law firm in Seattle, it was examined and eventually passed to issue by two patent examiners at the USPTO, and its assertion against B&N did not exhibit anything out of the ordinary in matters involving two businesses. Perhaps it should never have issued. I do not know for sure because I was not the one who considered the application, compared its claims against the then known prior art, and then determined that a patent should issue.

JG says:

Please NOT AGAIN! Heard everything, read everything… (Please read all the comments in response to the stupid article written by Mike here… when Wi-LAN sued the gang of 22!. ) After everything is said and done, there is usually more said than done!

I suggest we all wait and see what the courts decide. If Wi-LAN has a valid claim(s), let the professionals determine… you guys – amateurs — can say all you want… NO BODY CARES. The BIG Guys (THIEVES) MUST PAY! It’s about time.

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