Monday, October 03, 2011

WiFi Patent Troll

Mike Masnick reporting at TechDirt.

Very disturbing!

Patent Troll: Anyone Using WiFi Infringes; Won't Sue Individuals 'At This Stage':

The Patent Examiner blog has the incredible story of Innovatio IP, a patent troll that recently acquired a portfolio of patents that its lawyers (what, you think there are any employees?) appear to believe cover pretty much any WiFi implementation. They've beensuing coffee shops, grocery stores, restaurants and hotels first-- including Caribou Coffee, Cosi, Panera Bread Co, certain Marriotts, Best Westerns, Comfort Inns and more.

There are various interesting things in the article worth commenting on. First is the smaller settlements/making it up in volume technique. While its initial lawsuits against coffee shops and restaurants did focus on the central corporations, with the hotels, Innovatio appears to be focusing on individual franchisees. Yes, the small businesses who own individual hotels and probably have no idea how to deal with a patent infringement lawsuit -- all because they dared to offer WiFi somewhere in their hotels. To make it "easy" of course, Innovatio's lawyers will let them settle for between $2,300 and $5,000. In almost every case, that's going to be cheaper than hiring a lawyer to just get started dealing with this -- which I'm sure is exactly what Innovatio intends.

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