Wi-Lan Just Keeps On Suing; Says Cable Modems Infringe Its Patents Too

from the does-any-networking-equipment-not-infringe? dept

Wi-Lan really is the patent troll that just keeps on suing. You may recall that the company -- which once was an operating company that totally failed in the market, because it was unable to execute -- has since become one of the nastier patent trolls out there, suing everyone it possibly can. Years back, it claimed that it had patents that covered the basics behind WiFi. After that, it claimed patents on mobile broadband offerings, like WiMax. It's also sued over patents on mobile devices and near-field Bluetooth technology.

And it's not stopping there. Its latest move is to sue a bunch of cable firms for violating patents with their cable modems. Basically, if you offer any kind of networking, expect to have to pay some sort of tax to this company that couldn't hack it in the marketplace. Is that how the patent system was supposed to work?


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 2:53am

    yes, this is how its suposta work, just ask the riaa and mpaa

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 4:34am

    Yeah, I'm sure they invented all that stuff - didn't use anything created by others - nope.

     

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  3.  
    icon
    The Infamous Joe (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 4:57am

    Progress

    Can't you just feel all the science being progressed!?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 5:24am

    What is the difference between companies cross licensing?

    This is the way technology companies share IP. Is it wrong if IBM and HP cross license portfolios to each other? - No. So why is it wrong for companies to pay royalties to those that do not benefit from swapping IP. A cross license is in effect putting a price on IP. Technology firms do this all the time. This is just part of doing business.

     

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  5.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 5:37am

    Re: What is the difference between companies cross licensing?

    You misunderstand the purpose of cross licensing.

    IBM HP etc build up portfolios of (dodgy) patents to defend themselves against each other and especially against small players who might want to sue them for infringement. A bit of friendly cross licensing is useful to establish the validity of the patents in case they get attacked by a hostile entity - it doesn't amount to putting a value on the IP.

    The problem comes when they get attacked by companies that don't actually produce anything - and so can't be sued themselves.

    Also I am amazed that you think it is OK that this is just "part of doing business". After all I'm sure that's exactly the phrase used by mob bosses when they collect protection money....

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    basasa, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 5:53am

    Related

     

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  7.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 6:29am

    Re: Progress

    Gag me with a banana that was funny ...

    No really, first time in a while a one liner made me gag on a piece of fruit.

    Way to funny ...

     

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  8.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 6:30am

    Its not patent infringement ... its invention sampling ..

     

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  9.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 6:30am

    Its not patent infringement ... its invention sampling ..

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    NullOp, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 6:37am

    Trolls

    A sound legal system would have a three strikes policy on those bringing frivolous suit or working a business model which is, in essence, a litigation mill. Perhaps if every single company WiLan sued brought counter-suit it would lessen their taste for this particular business model.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    All wrong, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 7:13am

    Didn't you all know?

    They don't have patents for anything... nobody does.
    Al Gore invented everything concerning the internet.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    V, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 7:19am

    Patents and Copyrights

    Patents and Copyrights MIGHT have been a good idea back during the days of our founding fathers.

    Why?

    Because technology progressed at a much slower pace. To give you two examples, the predessor to the musket was first used in the 13th century in China. They weren't replaced by rifles until the 19th century. That's a long time.

    Also, take the example of the steam engine. It first became popular in 18th century and didn't lose momentum until well into the 19th century when it was replaced by the combustion engine.

    That's a LONG time for an invention to be around.

    Now consider today's technological advances. Computer technology is effectively obsolete in 5 years. Software and web technologies can have an even shorter lifespan.

    Everything changes so much more quickly, that there really isn't a need for copyright or patents anymore.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 7:24am

    "You may recall that the company -- which once was an operating company that totally failed in the market."

    Any link talking about the above?

     

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  14.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 7:31am

    Re: Patents and Copyrights

    "Everything changes so much more quickly, that there really isn't a need for copyright or patents anymore."

    The internal combution engine has been around for a century, the wheel for 4000 years, the wind mill for 500 years, the jet engine for 60 years (110 yrs if you count Teslas disk turbine). Shortening the length of patents is a good idea removing them isn't. Removing the ability to sue if you are a NPE is another needed reform. Reduced damages based on actual percentage of product is another. Making it easier to remove patents that have prior art, or are already in use, or are obvious to people in a given field is another needed reform. Software patents just need to be removed. Business plan patents need to be removed.

    there is more so dont get me started ... ;)

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 8:41am

    Re: Re: What is the difference between companies cross licensing?

    Corporations are acting more and more like governments everyday.

    Cross-licensing is like non-aggression pacts.

    "Intellectual property" is like state secrets.

    Lawyers are like nuclear weapons. You need to stockpile them to protect you from the other guy's lawyers.

    And patent trolls are like terrorist cells and guerrilla revolutionaries, with less to lose and the ability to wreak havoc on the bigger "nations."

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 8:55am

    I wonder if the Wi-Lan patents could be extended to cover the human nervous system...

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 9:12am

    Be careful with wording, punk

    "And patent trolls are like terrorist cells and guerrilla revolutionaries"

    I have a US patent which states on its face that I have the right "to exclude others from making, selling..."

    So if I bring a patent lawsuit againts one of those corporate monstrosities out there I become the same as terrorist ?????

    Forgive me stupid punk, but I;m gonna kick you little stupid ass

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    staff, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 9:31am

    trolls

    'patent trolls '

    Call it what you will...patent hoarder, patent troll, non-practicing entity, etc. It all means one thing: “we’re using your invention and we’re not going to pay”.

    For the truth about trolls, please see http://truereform.piausa.org.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 12:15pm

    Re: trolls

    Wow, that looks exactly like a standard conspiracy theory website...bad background, wall of text, probably made in Word.

    And just as credible, too...

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Daemon_ZOGG, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 12:36pm

    "..to pay some sort of tax to this company that couldn't hack it in the marketplace."

    Innovation is improving and evolving off of the ideas and creations from the past(i.e. A round wheel, for example). They say patents and copyrights are supposed to inspire innovation. Here's the definition of patents and copyrights in the real world: Innovation from patents and copyrights true purpose is to bankrupt and stifle anyone trying to create or improve things for the world and anyone living on it... God Damned Wi-Lan Trolls. }:P

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 6:08pm

    Re: Be careful with wording, punk

    "So if I bring a patent lawsuit againts one of those corporate monstrosities out there I become the same as terrorist ?????"

    Nah, you would just be an angry dude who takes himself way too seriously.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 6:09pm

    Re: trolls

    The truth?
    You can't handle the truth!

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 10:24pm

    Re: Be careful with wording, punk

    You should be angry, dude... at yourself, for having terrible reading comprehension.

    I'll quote myself exactly as you did, with some formatting for emphasis.

    "And patent trolls are like terrorist cells and guerrilla revolutionaries"

    At what point did I say that everyone who files a lawsuit over violations of a patent is a patent troll?

    I don't know what your definition of a patent troll is, but we can borrow the Wikipedia entry's explanation: "Patent troll is a pejorative term used for a person or company that enforces its patents against one or more alleged infringers in a manner considered unduly aggressive or opportunistic, often with no intention to manufacture or market the patented invention."

    Of course there will be some variation in the circumstances of different patent trolls, but the general concept is that they are people who don't create anything of value who intentionally try to make money just by filing lawsuits. Unless you fall into that category, you shouldn't take offense because my statement didn't apply to you. Unless you just feeling like getting worked up for no reason, in which case, have at it. As for the physical threats, I'll remind you that this is the internet, so there's no alley behind the cafeteria where I can fight with you after school.

    You also missed that it was an analogy and I wasn't actually saying that patent trolls are the same as terrorists. It was mostly a rant about how corporations are acting like sovereign nations, which is a very disturbing, but not at all surprising trend (especially if you read about the history of the Dutch East India Company).

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 6:40am

    Re: Re: Be careful with wording, punk

    "Patent troll is a pejorative term used for a person or company that enforces its patents against one or more alleged infringers in a manner considered unduly aggressive or opportunistic, often with no intention to manufacture or market the patented invention."

    A lot of very respectable individual inventors and companies fit this definition

    Thomas Edison is one notable example - he never mass-manufactured and marketed any of his inventioms, yet amassed a huge patent portfolio and wasn't shy to sue

    invention/product design and mass-manufactoring/marketing are two completely different things

    Look at the back of your IPhone (if you can afford one)

    "Designed by Apple in California, assembled in China"

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 10:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Be careful with wording, punk

    Respectability is a subjective matter.

    In my opinion, if an individual or company is suing others, "in a manner considered unduly aggressive or opportunistic...with no intention to manufacture or market the patented invention," then they are not respectable.

    Ironically, Thomas Edison isn't respected by a lot of people and has been retroactively labeled a patent troll by some. While I think he was opportunistic and underhanded in his legal dealings and patent filings, he did actually set up an electric power plant, so arguably, he did execute marketable inventions to some extent.

    "Look at the back of your IPhone (if you can afford one)"

    Oh, right. I'm probably just a poor schmuck who can't afford an iPhone because you perceive that I'm insulting people to whom I'm not even referring. That's logical, just like threats of physical violence on the internet...

    I actually have a Droid instead because I'm not a Mac fanboy, but also, I can't abide Apple's consumer-unfriendly and litigious approach to business or their totalitarian approach to the user experience.

    Apple does produce products, so they aren't necessarily a patent troll, but they're almost worse because they're anti-competitive, litigious, prone to spreading of FUD about rivals, and apparently their every marketing decision hinges on the whims of an out-of-touch megalomaniac.

     

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  26.  
    icon
    The Infamous Joe (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 10:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Be careful with wording, punk

    It's always so refreshing to see someone new try discussing patents with angry dude. It's almost a rite of passage here at TD. :)

    If you haven't already, you'll soon discover the uselessness of it. angry dude may or may not be a patent troll, but he is definitely a troll when it comes to discussing them. Once you come to terms with that, you'll be ready to make an account and wait for the next poor bastard to give it a try.

    Welcome to the club.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Dick Head, Dec 4th, 2010 @ 2:07pm

    I beg to differ......

    I think your attitude toward a company that was a pioneer in the industry for almost the last twenty years stinks.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    linda, Dec 22nd, 2010 @ 12:41pm

    LG Electronics

    Appears LG Electronics disagreed with your without merit..
    as they settled today

     

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  29.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 22nd, 2010 @ 12:48pm

    Re: LG Electronics

    Appears LG Electronics disagreed with your without merit..
    as they settled today


    How does that disprove anything? All it means is that it's cheaper to settle than to fight. That's evidence of how screwed up the system is. Thanks for proving it.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Linda, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:58am

    Proving what? You have 20 more exhausting settlement articles to write...looks like you found your self a great hobby
    Acer
    Apple
    Atheros Communications
    Belkin International
    Broadcom Corporation
    Charter Communications
    Comcast Corp
    Dell
    D-Link Corporation
    Gateway
    Hewlett-Packard Company
    Intel Corporation
    Lenovo
    Marvell Semiconductor
    Motorola
    Personal Communications Devices
    Sony
    Texas Instruments
    Time Warner
    Toshiba

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Mo Dee, Dec 25th, 2010 @ 4:31pm

    The verdict

    I have been following wi-lan since they first formed. Here is the real story.

    They tried to bring their patents in the form of products but the bigger players in the market (most of the people they are suing) just figured they could get away without licensing it because wi-lan was a small company and could not afford to go after everyone in court.

    I don't believe that the people they are suing were not aware that wi-lan already owned the patents, as it is standard due diligence with most companies that they will make an attempt to file a patent, and in this process will find out if a patent already exists.

    I'm sure if many of these companies licensed the patent from wi-lan many years ago, wi-lan would have the cash to continue their hardware/chip manufacturing, but because they didn't, the company has been taken over by a bunch of lawyers in order to get what is rightfully theirs.

    Another company that i would compare to wi-lan in this case is qualcomm. They have a patent for CDMA and most cell phone manufacturers pay qualcomm a royalty when producing a CDMA handset. Nokia was one company that didn't want to pay qualcommm and it turned into a long fierce battle. I happened to work for a CDMA telco at the time and the nokia handsets we carried were the only handsets that didn't have a sticker that said "CDMA by qualcomm" The nokia handsets also had the poorest reception due to the fact that their CDMA implementation for the chips were slightly different then qualcomms spec, in order to try and avoid paying qualcomm the licensing fees. This was back in 2000 and eventually Nokia had to pay - they have been in court ever since....

    The whole objective of a business is to make a profit and the laws are supposed to try and provide a fair playing ground for this so those that strive in good faith to earn are protected from tyranny. Because there is sufficient history that wi-lan did in fact try and take the product to market, and that the responsibility lies on the other companies to do their due diligence before going to market - Wi-Lan is in the right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Mo Dee, Dec 25th, 2010 @ 4:32pm

    The verdict

    I have been following wi-lan since they first formed. Here is the real story.

    They tried to bring their patents in the form of products but the bigger players in the market (most of the people they are suing) just figured they could get away without licensing it because wi-lan was a small company and could not afford to go after everyone in court.

    I don't believe that the people they are suing were not aware that wi-lan already owned the patents, as it is standard due diligence with most companies that they will make an attempt to file a patent, and in this process will find out if a patent already exists.

    I'm sure if many of these companies licensed the patent from wi-lan many years ago, wi-lan would have the cash to continue their hardware/chip manufacturing, but because they didn't, the company has been taken over by a bunch of lawyers in order to get what is rightfully theirs.

    Another company that i would compare to wi-lan in this case is qualcomm. They have a patent for CDMA and most cell phone manufacturers pay qualcomm a royalty when producing a CDMA handset. Nokia was one company that didn't want to pay qualcommm and it turned into a long fierce battle. I happened to work for a CDMA telco at the time and the nokia handsets we carried were the only handsets that didn't have a sticker that said "CDMA by qualcomm" The nokia handsets also had the poorest reception due to the fact that their CDMA implementation for the chips were slightly different then qualcomms spec, in order to try and avoid paying qualcomm the licensing fees. This was back in 2000 and eventually Nokia had to pay - they have been in court ever since....

    The whole objective of a business is to make a profit and the laws are supposed to try and provide a fair playing ground for this so those that strive in good faith to earn are protected from tyranny. Because there is sufficient history that wi-lan did in fact try and take the product to market, and that the responsibility lies on the other companies to do their due diligence before going to market - Wi-Lan is in the right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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