Patent Troll Says Anyone Using WiFi Infringes; Won't Sue Individuals 'At This Stage'
from the a-well-thought-out-shakedown dept
There are various interesting things in the article worth commenting on. First is the smaller settlements/making it up in volume technique. While its initial lawsuits against coffee shops and restaurants did focus on the central corporations, with the hotels, Innovatio appears to be focusing on individual franchisees. Yes, the small businesses who own individual hotels and probably have no idea how to deal with a patent infringement lawsuit -- all because they dared to offer WiFi somewhere in their hotels. To make it "easy" of course, Innovatio's lawyers will let them settle for between $2,300 and $5,000. In almost every case, that's going to be cheaper than hiring a lawyer to just get started dealing with this -- which I'm sure is exactly what Innovatio intends.
The company is represented by the infamous law firm of Niro, Haller & Niro, which is the firm that originally inspired the term "patent troll." The lawyer representing the company, Matthew McAndrews, seems to imply that the company believes the patents cover everyone who has a home WiFi setup, but they don't plan to go after such folks right now, for "strategic" reasons:
"Innovatio has made a strategic and business judgment at this stage that it doesn’t intend to pursue [lawsuits on the basis of] residential use of WiFi," McAndrews said during a phone conversation last week.And while that certainly could change, you may be relieved (or probably not) to learn that McAndrews does not "perceive" such a "strategic" decision will change. However, later in the article, he seems to indicate otherwise:
Ultimately, he said, Innovatio’s "plan is to license this portfolio to the fullest extent possible. That would include anyone who's wireless networking."And then there's this:
"We want you to continue to use this technology, we just want our client to get his due share,” McAndrews said. “This is not a seat-of-the-pants, fly-by-night shakedown."I guess he means this is a well-planned, well-financed shakedown that's going to stick around for a while. Lovely.
At least there is some firepower arguing against Innovatio. After its first round of lawsuits, Motorola and Cisco went to court, asking for a declaratory judgment that its WiFi products do not infringe... and that Innovatio's patents are invalid. Hopefully that comes to pass or WiFi may get a hell of a lot more expensive.