stories filed under: "ethernet"
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 14th 2009 2:56pm
Remember back when 3Com was a big innovative company coming up with interesting new products? What happened since then? Well, as we've seen over and over again, once a company runs into trouble continuing to innovate, its last ditch effort to stay in business is to start suing everyone for patent infringement. Step up to the plate, 3Com. The company set up a subsidiary specifically for suing other companies for patent infringement and just sued Acer, Apple, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway, HP, Sony, and Toshiba. Oh, and take a guess where this "subsidiary" set up shop? East Texas... of course. All the better to file patent lawsuits apparently...
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jan 24th 2008 1:28am
from the good-for-the-FTC dept
Over the last few years, it's been well documented that there's plenty of money to be made in using patents to shakedown companies who actually make products. Apparently, this is a bit of a problem for companies that hold onto patents that were actually licensed at more reasonable rates in the past. Take, for example, a company named N-Data, that had bought some patents pertaining to Ethernet back in 2003, from a spin-off from National Semiconductor. National Semiconductor had negotiated a deal with the IEEE that allowed anyone to license these patents for $1,000, in order to make sure its technology was included in the standard. However, N-Data, who was well aware of this deal, felt that now that it owned the patents, it could ignore that agreement and try to force companies using selling Ethernet products (now a widely accepted standard, of course) to pay a lot more than $1,000. Luckily, the FTC has stepped in and told N-Data to knock it off, pointing out that it needed to live up to the agreement between NatSemi and the IEEE, noting that if N-Data were allowed to ignore the agreement, it would throw into doubt an awful lot of technology standards that include similar patent licensing terms. It's interesting to note, however, that the decision by the FTC wasn't unanimous -- and FTC chair Deborah Platt Majoras voted against the decision, suggesting that forcing N-Data to actually agree to an agreement with the patents it bought would somehow unfairly be protecting large corporate interests. Who knew that actually living up to what was agreed to as part of a standards setting process was actually big company welfare?