Early Mobile Internet Company That Failed To Adapt Becomes Patent Troll

from the failed-companies-litigate dept

We've seen it all too often: some companies are perhaps ahead of their time, and they fail in the marketplace, so they turn into patent trolls, making sure everyone who succeeds has to pay up. It's difficult to see how that promotes innovation in any way, as it appears to be rewarding failure in the marketplace, while punishing success. Either way, the latest company to go down this sad route is the former Openwave, which has sold off its remaining businesses, with the intent of being a full time patent troll, under the name Unwired Planet (the company's original name back in 1996 before it became Openwave -- one of a series of names it had, including Software.com, Phone.com and Libris).

Some of you may remember Openwave as a company that helped get WAP browsers on lots of phones, and sold services and WAP gateways back in the early days of the mobile internet. Of course, Openwave then failed to innovate, failed to keep up with the changing market, and became pretty obsolete. But rather than just go out of business, it's gone full-on patent troll. Amusingly, the company is pitching this as "a major milestone." Yes, it's a "milestone" that instead of just failing and shutting down, you're now going to shake down other more innovative companies.
CEO Mike Mulica said in the company's announcement that the sale to Marlin marked a "major milestone" in its new corporate strategy. Mulica has been a major driver of the patent initiative since he took his post last October.

"As we complete the sale of our product businesses, we will continue to focus on a multi-pronged strategy to realize the value of our unique patent portfolio," Mulica said.
The company already started down this road last year by suing both Apple and RIM -- but it sounds like such activities are going to expand.

Filed Under: troll, wap, wireless internet
Companies: apple, openwave, rim, unwired planet


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  1. identicon
    patent litigation, 27 Apr 2012 @ 5:17am

    npes

    Although I recognize the inefficiency problem that the patent troll business model creates within the economy, nevertheless the NPE model is profitable, effective, and a legal exercise of IP rights. The problem is a systemic one; when NPEs win, on average, two to three times the damage awards that practicing entities reap from patent litigation, you can't blame them for suing as much as possible. It seems to me that one of the best ways to combat the NPE problem is to disincentivize them by reducing their potential winnings from enforcement action. So far, however, only a few courts seem to have taken the reasonable-royalty approach.

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