Wi-LAN sues Apple, Dell, HP, 19 others

Another lawsuit for the telco industry

As if there weren't enough patent lawsuits flying around the telecommunications industry, Wi-LAN announced last week it has filed suit against 22 companies.

Wi-LAN, a Canadian wireless network vendor, is suing the companies in two separate actions for allegedly violating three of its patents. The patents, which are registered as numbers 5,282,222, RE37802 and 5,956,323, deal primarily with Wi-Fi technology and power-saving technology for DSL products.

Among the companies named in the suit are such industry heavyweights as Dell, Apple, Gateway, HP, Intel and Toshiba. The company said in a statement that it wants the defendants to sign licensing agreements with Wi-LAN for the rights to use its technology.

"Wi-LAN has successfully negotiated patent licensing deals with a number of companies covering a broad range of patent families and technologies," said Jim Skippen, Wi-LAN's president and CEO. "While we prefer to resolve patent infringement through business discussions, we have consistently maintained that litigation was always a possibility when negotiations do not result in a license within a reasonable time."

In a conference call today, Skippen said that one of the reasons why Wi-LAN felt the need to sue so many companies at once was that "suing additional defendants" would not "significantly increase the cost of litigation," as there are "significant economies of scale in suing multiple defendants on the same time." He also said that the company wanted to bring "maximum pressure" on the defendants to reach settlements.

Wi-LAN is no stranger to patent litigation, as the company sued Cisco in 2004 for violating its Wi-Fi patents. The parties settled the suit in 2005, when Cisco agreed to purchase some of the Wi-LAN patents, and to pay royalties for the rights to use the rest.

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