Everything Old Is New Again: 7 Years Ago Someone Else Tried To Sue WiFi Hotspot Operators Too

from the so-many-patents,-so-little-time dept

We recently wrote about a new patent troll called Innovatio, which was suing a bunch of coffee shops, restaurants, supermarkets and hotels, claiming that by offering WiFi hotspots, they were infringing on its patents. Glenn Fleishman reminded us of a very similar story from seven years ago, when Acacia (one of the biggest patent trolling operations out there), got some patents and went after various hotspot providers, similarly asking them to pay (relatively) small amounts ($1,000/year) to "license" the patents in question. The patents in question are different from the patents being used by Innovatio. However, if you think these two companies are the only ones to hold patents that cover some aspect of WiFi, think again. While, as far as I know, Acacia eventually gave up on this strategy, if Innovatio continues, just watch various patent holders come out of the woodwork. Operating a WiFi hotspot may mean getting hit up weekly to pay off the next round of patent trolls.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 4:05pm

    "It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
    For fear they should succumb and go astray;
    So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
    You will find it better policy to say: --

    "We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
    No matter how trifling the cost;
    For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
    And the nation that plays it is lost!"

    -Rudyard Kipling

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    CanadianObserver, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 4:07pm

    Can someone please explain how they can go after the wireless operator rather than the company who manufactures the wireless equipment. I don't get it.

     

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

  3.  
    icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 4:09pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R99UhCidXQI

    Starting 2:46. I keep wanting to post this sketch every time I read about one of these protection rackets.

     

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

  4.  
    icon
    fogbugzd (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 4:14pm

    Any patents on basic WiFi ought to be running out soon. Perhaps these are desperation shots at the buzzer.

    Of course with our current screwed up patent system it is entirely possible that someone has gotten a new patent on 20 year old technology.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 4:27pm

    IP is just to subjective to have any relevance in real world situations, those people claiming such a things didn't prove any concepts, didn't prove they had a working prototype, didn't show how to build anything or how to create the market for it, instead they go after people who do and invest a lot of time and money trying to really make something that works.

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 4:27pm

    People are better off without IP laws, let the market decide what is good or not.

     

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

  7.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 5:17pm

    Re:

    Maybe the patent is "a method for taking a wireless router out of a box and put it in a public place without a password in range of complete strangers that may connect to it while making use of your services."

    It involves hands and stuff and other specific hardware probably.

     

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

  8.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 5:32pm

    Re:

    For the same reason you get a ticket for speeding instead of GM.

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 9:27pm

    Re: Re:

    Um, no. It's not like a speeding ticket - it's more like getting a fine because your car doesn't meet EPA standards when you drive it off the lot.

    The proper people to sue for WiFi patents (assuming the patents are valid, of course) are those manufacturing the WiFi hardware, not the ones buying that hardware.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 1:44am

    Re:

    Patents cover power over use too.

     

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

  11.  
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    btrussell (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 2:34am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You're right. I dismissed my analogy already with the other story.

    I must have forgot to hit delete. :)

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 5:00am

    "Operating a WiFi hotspot may mean getting hit up weekly to pay off the next round of patent trolls."

    Hmmm - nice WIFI hotspot you've got there.
    Would be a shame if anything were to happen to it.
    Might I suggest some insurance?

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 6:34am

    Response to: CanadianObserver on Oct 4th, 2011 @ 4:07pm

    A patent (in the US) give you the right to exclude anyone else from making, using, selling, offering to sale and importing the invention. Basically, it allows a patent holder to have a wide base for suing. The user might be the big money target.

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    james, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 2:16pm

    these patent trolls are stifling innovation, not promoting it. It's terrible for those trying to be innovative

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    staff, Oct 7th, 2011 @ 9:43am

    another biased article

    “Patent troll”

    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”. This is just dissembling by large infringers to kill any inventor support system. It is purely about legalizing theft.

    Prior to eBay v Mercexchange, small entities had a viable chance at commercializing their inventions. If the defendant was found guilty, an injunction was most always issued. Then the inventor small entity could enjoy the exclusive use of his invention in commercializing it. Unfortunately, injunctions are often no longer available to small entity inventors because of the Supreme Court decision so we have no fair chance to compete with much larger entities who are now free to use our inventions. Essentially, large infringers now have your gun and all the bullets. Worse yet, inability to commercialize means those same small entities will not be hiring new employees to roll out their products and services. And now some of those same parties who killed injunctions for small entities and thus blocked their chance at commercializing now complain that small entity inventors are not commercializing. They created the problem and now they want to blame small entities for it. What dissembling! If you don’t like this state of affairs (your unemployment is running out), tell your Congress member. Then maybe we can get some sense back in the patent system with injunctions fully enforceable on all infringers by all inventors, large and small.

    For the truth about trolls, please see http://truereform.piausa.org/default.html#pt.

    Masnick and his monkeys have an unreported conflict of interest-
    https://www.insightcommunity.com/cases.php?n=10&pg=1

    They sell blog filler and "insights" to major corporations including MS, HP, IBM etc. who just happen to be some of the world’s most frequent patent suit defendants. Obviously, he has failed to report his conflicts as any reputable reporter would. But then Masnick and his monkeys are not reporters. They are patent system saboteurs receiving funding from huge corporate infringers. They cannot be trusted and have no credibility. All they know about patents is they don’t have any.

     

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


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