Apple, HTC, HP all hit with mobile patent lawsuits from WiLAN

Sep 2, 2011
Tech

Seems like tech companies in the mobile sphere spend more time fending off (and filing) patent infringement lawsuits than they do actually selling the products that supposedly infringe on them. The latest legal claim to get chucked Apple’s way is one from WiLAN, a company that holds more than 800 mobile-related patents and collects various […]

Seems like tech companies in the mobile sphere spend more time fending off (and filing) patent infringement lawsuits than they do actually selling the products that supposedly infringe on them.

The latest legal claim to get chucked Apple’s way is one from WiLAN, a company that holds more than 800 mobile-related patents and collects various licensing fees from companies in order for them to use them. GigaOM reports that WiLAN has announced it has filed suits against Apple, as well as mobile device manufacturer HTC and computer company HP, “for infringing on two of its patents related to CDMA, HSPA, Wi-Fi and LTE technologies.”

WiLAN’s primary business is in the holding and licensing of patents, it seems. According to a story from PocketGamer, the company is looking to acquire another 5,400 patents from a fellow Ottawa, Canada, company called MOSAID through hostile takeover. Here’s a quote from that story:

‘WiLAN is currently reliant on licensees paying royalties under existing licensing agreements and on the additional licensing of its patent portfolio to generate future revenues and increased cash flows,’ the firm says in its forward looking statement.

‘The company needs to acquire or develop new patents to continue and grow its business.’

And it seems that unlike companies like Lodsys, which seems panicked that Apple might get into its lawsuit against iOS developers over patents, WiLAN has experience taking big companies like Apple to task for patents. As GigaOM reports, the suit is taking place in the Texas Eastern U.S. District Court, a court known to favor plaintiffs in patent suits. About 88 percent of rulings there end up going with the party making the infringement claim, which is 20 percent higher than the national average. WiLAN has hired high-powered intellectual property law firm McKool Smith to run its case for it. The firm has lots of experience arguing cases in East Texas, GigaOM writes.

This isn’t WiLAN’s first rodeo with Apple, either. The company sued Apple in 2007 and again in 2010, over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth patents, respectively. Some tech companies have settled with WiLAN, but most of its cases, including the ones with Apple, continue at present.

Like Lodsys, WiLAN’s ultimate goal isn’t a verdict, it’s a settlement of licensing fees, and most of these cases settle before they ever get to a legal conclusion. But Apple has the means of fighting back against WiLAN and may choose to do so, at least for a time, in order to show that it refuses to be bullied by patent holders. Whether that strategy might be viable, though, remains to be seen.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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