Alleged patent troll Innovatio IP Ventures, LLC has decided that one of its (presumably many) patent portfolios is for Wi-Fi in general. As such, it has begun to sue companies left and right as patent trolls are wont to do. So far, the suits have largely been against restaurants, coffee shops, and department stores including Caribou Coffee, Cosí and Panera Bread. In an attempt to freshen up the patent trolling process, it seems that Innovatio is asking for comparatively tiny settlements of between $2000 and $5000 to make the option of going to court seem extra expensive.
At this point you’re probably thinking “wait a minute, but I use Wi-Fi.” Rest assured, Innovatio has no intentions of going after
your wallet you…yet. In an interview, Matthew McAndrews, lead litigator for Innovatio lawsuits said “Innovatio has made a strategic and business judgment at this stage that it doesn’t intend to pursue [lawsuits on the basis of] residential use of WiFi.” He also made a point of mentioning that “This is not a seat-of-the-pants, fly-by-night shakedown.” The lawyer doth protest too much, methinks.
By now, you probably know all about how patent trolling works but what makes this scenario a little bit different is the size of the settlements and the pervasiveness of the technology, two variables that go hand in hand. The fact that almost everyone uses Wi-Fi means that Innovatio has no shortage of available targets and the low cost of settlement makes fighting a hard choice to make. That’s all well and good for Innovatio because almost everyone has a stake in this particular fight and everyone is a lot of people if you manage to get them all riled up.
Innovatio’s latest campaign has been to start taking on hotels, including the Hyatt Corporation, Marriott Hotels, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Ramada Inn, Best Western, Days Inn, Super 8 Hotels, Travelodge, and many, many more. In retalition, two companies that hold Wi-Fi usage near and dear –Motorola and Cisco– have filed a complaint requesting that the Innovatio patents be declared invalid. Innovatio does not produce or sell anything and therefore, its patents aren’t really protecting anything, as patents are designed to do. Of course, if that arguement actually worked, patent trolling would be over by now. Still, the fact that Wi-Fi is so ubiquitous could finally tip the scales. This is a pretty lucrative cash-grab for Innovatio –whatever their motives may actually be– but it’s at the cost of angering a huge nest of hornets.
(via The Patent Examiner)
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