Patent Trolling At It’s Finest
Patent trolling isn’t anything new. In fact, it has probably been in the news more times than there are patents themselves. Recently, rage mode/controversy over a new patent infringement suit has been a hot topic, so let’s take a seat and look over yet another ridiculous claim of patent infringement.
Most of you know what WiFi is, have heard of it, or at least have heard someone say something about it. Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past twenty years; WiFi is a technology that allows broadcasting of an internet connection through a wireless router which is then received by a wireless device, such as a laptop or a bridge. It can be found almost anywhere here in the US. Most McDonalds and Starbucks offer WiFi in their locations, with others like hotels and local coffee shops doing the same. It is used to promote business and provide customers with a reason to come back to their establishment.
However, Innovatio IP Ventures, after recently acquiring the patent for WiFi, have begun to file lawsuits with any business that offers it in their locations. The logical reasoning behind all this? There is none. Innovatio is simply trying to squeeze money out of a patent that is no longer profiting. The company is demanding one-lump sum for a licensing payment between $2,300 and $5,000 from each of the several hundred defendants targeted in its lawsuit. Some of the defendants have already settled due to a lack of desire to pay legal fees.
Obviously Innovatio will not be suing residential users of WiFi (I’d assume 2 billion is a rather large number of defendants on a lawsuit) but this isn’t really the case. The fact is that the patent these business are “infringing” upon are not even the manufactures, which means they aren’t doing anything but using the wireless router they purchased similar to that of a residential owner. The difference being that these businesses are making money off of the routers and Innovatio wants a cut of that profit. What makes this a case of patent trolling is the fact that there is no law against using a product in your business that you paid for. It would be similar to an owner of the automobile patent suing a taxi company for making money by using their cars. That clearly is not patent infringement, and as such, Innovatio is trolling.
There is however a good side to all this, in May, Cisco and Motorola decided that while trolling is unavoidable, trolling their customers is unacceptable and have filed a suit against Innovatio with a complaint asking for declaratory judgment, calling for the Delaware federal court to rule that their products don’t infringe, and declare Innovatio’s patents invalid.
“Innovatio is in the business of enforcing and licensing patents,” Motorola and Cisco allege in their complaint. “Innovatio does not sell or offer for sale any products.”
I hope that the courts not only vote in favor of Cisco and Motorola, but somehow manage to destroy this company in the process. As I stated before, patent trolling is as obnoxious as it is redundant. While I assume this matter will be dealt with easily, Innovatio will be replaced with yet another troll, just waiting to cause a stir in the news by trying to gain a quick fortune off of an otherwise profitless patent.
More of the lawsuits can be found here;
- Innovatio IP Ventures v. Madison Marriott West et al, Sept. 19, 2011
- Innovatio IP Ventures v. Arrowhead Best Western Lodge & Suites et al, Sept. 19, 2011
- Innovatio IP Ventures v. Comfort Inn O’Hare et al, Sept. 16, 2011
- Innovatio IP Ventures v. Wingate by Wyndham Schaumburg/Convention Center et al, Sept. 15, 2011
- Innovatio IP Ventures v. JW Marriott Chicago et al, Sept. 15, 2011
- Motorola Solutions & Cisco Systems v. Innovatio IP Ventures, May 13, 2011