We’ve seen a lot of ridiculous claims asserted by patent trolls over the past few years, but this one truly takes the cake: Ars Technica reports that an entity called “Project Paperless LLC” has been sending out letters to small and medium-sized businesses demanding licensing fees for using office scanners capable of sending PDFs via email. Steven Vicinanza, founder of Atlanta-based IT services provider BlueWave Computing, told Ars that both his company and several of its customers had received letters telling them that they needed to buy licenses for “distributed computer architecture” patents that cover basic networked scanning technology. At a cost of $1,000 per employee, Vicinanza said that the licenses would have cost his company a grand total of $130,000 just for the right to scan documents. More →
Patent trolls, the non-practicing entities that buy up large patent portfolios for the sole purpose of suing other companies, have long been the bane of many tech companies. And according to the Wall Street Journal, it looks as though the United States Department of Justice’s antitrust division may be ready to do something to limit patent trolls’ ability to extract licensing fees. In particular, the Journal quotes former DOJ acting antitrust chief Joseph Wayland, who said that officials in the agency are devoting “huge energy, particularly at a senior level” to figuring out whether patent trolls pose competitive threats to technology markets. The Journal’s report is unclear, however, on what actions the DOJ or the Federal Trade Commission would take if they found that patent trolls were bad for competition. More →
As Research In Motion continues to explore any and all options that might help carry it through the next two quarters until it finally launches its first BlackBerry 10 smartphone and beyond, one option reportedly on the table is patent trolling. RIM recently hired law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP to explore a number of possible paths it might take in the near term and the long term as its struggles continue, and according to Techdirt, one of those options is to take a more aggressive stance with its patents. As the patent wars heat up in the mobile space, Microsoft seems to be the only major player pulling in substantial revenue from its recent publicized dealings involving aggressive patent plays. Even Apple, despite its numerous efforts, has yet to score any big wins of note. Whether or not RIM can manage to successfully weaponize its patent portfolio — if it is in fact exploring that option — remains to be seen, but the pressure is on as BlackBerry World 2012 kicks off with no new product announcements to be found following a brief preview of its next-generation smartphone platform. More →
Following a long history at the forefront of the wireless industry, Nokia holds more than 30,000 patent licenses and applications. On Thursday, the Finnish vendor’s portfolio was confirmed to be slightly lighter as patent troll Sisvel International announced that it had acquired more than 450 Nokia patents. According to the Italy-based patent licensing firm, more than 350 of the patents it acquired from Nokia are essential to wireless standards. “Sisvel has been extremely active in recent years working with the wireless industry to provide simplified access to essential wireless patents on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory, or FRAND, conditions,” said Sisvel CEO Giustino de Sanctis in a statement. “Acquiring the many essential patents in this key portfolio is a very significant step for Sisvel and a testament to Sisvel’s commitment and determination to succeed in this space. We look forward to offering these essential patents on FRAND terms and to continuing our work within the wireless industry.” The company’s press release follows below. More →
According to The Private and Social Costs of Patent Trolls, a new study published by the Boston University School of Law, patent trolls are responsible for $500 billion of “lost wealth” between 1990 and 2010, and for a decline in innovation. The study defines patents trolls as “firms that license patents without producing goods,” otherwise known as non-practicing entities. The researchers have found patent trolls, typically smaller firms, often sue large companies for technology patent infringement to make a quick buck. The lawsuits have resulted in an average of $80 billion of lost wealth per year during the last four years. Read on for more. More →
During his Embedded System Conference Silicon Valley keynote recently, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak took some time to rag on Paul Allen’s decision to sue Apple, Google, and other companies over patent infringement. “Paul Allen should be out there investing in companies that are doing something, making products, actually making a new future for the world, and not ‘I’m going to sue people, and get in bed with the lawyers to make my money.’ That’s not the right way,” Wozniak said, according to The Register. Wozniak referred to Allen’s strategy as a “patent-troll thing,” and said “any fifth grader could come up with the same approach.” Woz also said he was so perturbed by the Allen’s lawsuit binge — and the big company strategy of paying engineers to file for patents long before the tech is actually available – that he decided to bail on the Microsoft co-founder’s speech at the Computer History Museum to instead indulge in some Marie Callender’s pea soup with friends. More →
Before you get uppity about having us call Klausner Technologies a patent troll, consider what they’ve been doing since their invention of the PDA: Suing everyone under the sun who has used visual voicemail. What else can you do when you’re no more than a one-hit wonder and your cheap Flash website offers nothing more than visual voicemail licensing information (which does nothing but give you their email address for inquiries)? After being successful with their suits against AT&T, Apple, and Comcast in the past, it seems they’re out for a little more cash and have targeted Verizon. With the prior success (read settlements) of past lawsuits, their action against Verizon was pretty much guaranteed $$$. While financial details of the settlement haven’t been disclosed, it’s pretty clear that Klausner is going to get a pretty penny looking at their history. We really don’t have a problem when people get sued over using someone else’s product without proper licensing (Nokia + Qualcomm) but we take major issue with patent trolls; they do nothing but act as a large speed bump to companies who are putting out technologies and services we like.