Canadian company Wi-LAN—which used to do broadband development but recently retooled itself as a patent holding company—has filed suit against 22 companies alleging their products infringe on Wi-LAN patents covering Wi-Fi and power consumption in DSL products. Companies named in the suits incude manufacturers like Acer, Apple, Belkin, Lenovo, Dell, D-Link, NetGear, Hewlett-Packard, Sony, Texas Instruments, Broadcom, and Buffalo, but also mass market retailers like Circuit City and Best Buy.
Wi-LAN alleges the companies infringe on three Wi-LAN patents (5,282,222, RE37,802 and 5,956,323) covering power consmption and technologies used in Wi-Fi tranceivers. And apparently some major manufacturers have been willing to license the technology from Wi-LAN rather than end up on the wrong side a lawsuit: the company recently struck a deal with Fujitsu, which is notably not named in the company’s current complaints.
The suits were filed in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas, a circuit known for siding with patent-holders in infringement suits.
“Wi-LAN has successfully negotiated patent licensing deals with a number of companies covering a broad range of patent families and technologies,” said Wi-LAN president and CEO Jim Skippen, in a statement. “Our existing licensing agreements are a strong endorsement of the strength and validity of our valuable patent portfolio. While we prefer to resolve patent infringement through business discussions, we have consistently maintained that litigation was always a possibility when negotiations do not result in a license within a reasonable time.”
Wi-LAN’s decision to include retailers in its suit may be a means to put pressure on manufacturers: Wi-LAN may be hoping that the retailers will pressure manufacturers to put the suit behind them as quickly as possible (e.g., settle) rather than risk losing presence for their products in the retailer’s channels.