Ottowa-based wireless technology licensing outfit Wi-LAN has fired a major shot across the bow of the technology world today: the firm has filed suit against no fewer than 19 major technology companies—including Apple, HP, Dell, Lenovo, Sony, and Acer—claiming the companies violate its patents on Bluetooth technology. Wi-LAN says all the companies violate its U.S. patent 5,515,369, granted in 1996, covering a method for frequency switching to devices operating in similar spectrums don’t interfere with each other.
The suit has been filed in the famously patent holder-friendly Eastern District of Texas. Wi-LAN has been variously described as a “patent troll,” in that it doesn’t manufacture products of its own or develop its own intellectual property, instead acquiring patents and other IP from other companies and maintaining or executing new licenses to that technology. The patent at issue in this case was originally issued to Metricom, a company that launched on of the first wireless Internet services in the United States. (Anyone remember Ricochet?) Wi-LAN has launched repeated patent suits in the past over wireless technology; a few have been settled, but others are still awaiting trail.
The allegedly infringing companies named in the litigation are Acer, Apple, Atheros, Belkin, Broadcom, Dell, D-Link, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Lenovo, LG, Marvell, Motorola, Personal Communications Devices, Sony, Texas Instruments, Toshiba, and UTStarcom, along with various subsidiaries.
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