A Maple Leaf Rag: Intellectual Property Analysis of WiLAN v Research In Motion
WiLAN, a Canadian patent licensing, non-operating entity, has sued struggling Canadian Blackberry producer Research In Motion over patent infringement. Again. Is WiLAN trying to recover its losses from a failed hostile takeover of fellow patent licensor Mosaid? Or, are they trying to “bring value to industry and consumers” by asserting one patent that was passed along to at least four different owners before it was ever owned by WiLAN, and asserting another that claims rights to a keyboard?
After launching a failed hostile takeover of fellow non-operating entity Mosaid Technologies in August 2011, WiLAN’s wallet is $10 million Canadian dollars lighter . As such, if you are a patent licensing, non-operating entity in Canada, what better way to make up that loss than to sue another Canadian company that does produce products? Because “developing, protecting, and monetizing technology intellectual property … that’s the WiLAN Way.”
So what would be a better target for WiLAN to recover its losses from than Research in Motion (RIM)? RIM has faced its share of patent trolls in the past and usually when it is most vulnerable. This time is no exception. In 2006, RIM avoided a court-ordered shut-down of its entire Blackberry network by paying troll NTP Inc., a firm with one employee, $612.5 million. On the heels of this litigation (in which some of NTP’s asserted patents were still, at the time, in reexamination brought about by RIM’s case, albeit not necessarily at their behest as the information could have harmed some of their patents and applications – but that’s another story) WiLAN surfaced in 2008 and sued RIM for patent infringement. Believing now that paying off a troll is less costly than fighting them, RIM settled with WiLAN for what can be inferred to be millions.
Now, following a 75% drop in their stock price in 2011, as well as further drops in its stock price brought about by RIM’s co-CEOs stepping down on January 22, 2012, WiLAN has decided to surface and target RIM again. This time, RIM is accused of infringing two different WiLAN patents, because Blackberry products utilize the incredibly distinctive mobile phone feature of keyboards and Bluetooth technology. WiLAN knows all about Bluetooth technology. Well, WiLAN and the four other assignees who owned the asserted patent before WiLAN ever laid claim to it.
But patents are all about innovation, right?ShareThis