from the i'll-show-you-mine dept
In how many ways does this case illustrate some of the insanities of the patent system? For one, patents applied for by Symbol in February 2001 were not granted by USPTO until February 2007. While prudence in patent examination is expected, six years is a lifetime in technology years. Making the assumption that the technology in question is justifiably patentable, the USPTO clearly failed Symbol: its market share in WLAN hardware has dwindled in the intervening years while Aruba's has grown strongly. Checking that assumption, it's difficult to see how technology that was simultaneously developed by no fewer than four different companies (Symbol, Aruba, Airespace, Trapeze Networks) qualifies as novel, non-obvious, and therefore patentable. But it's the entire timeline that perhaps best illustrates the lunacy. In 2001 Symbol had an idea, and Aruba Networks didn't yet exist. By 2003, Aruba was delivering its product to customers but Symbol still hadn't made it to market and was kicking the tires at Aruba. Fast forward to 2007, Symbol's market share has fallen to third place and fading behind Aruba (even holding that position largely due to sales of legacy WLAN hardware, I suspect) and suddenly it discovers that all along Aruba has been infringing upon its "invention".
It's a sad but popular refrain made possible by the soft protectionism that is the current patent system.