Who's that trip-trapping over my Bluetooth patent?

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Canadian 'technology licensing company' Wi-Lan is suing practically every major hardware manufacturer you've ever heard of for selling Bluetooth-enabled laptops and phones.

It has filed a complaint against - take a deep breath - Acer, Apple, Atheros, Belkin International, Broadcom, Dell, D-Link, Gateway, HP, Intel, Lenovo, LG Electronics, Marvell Semiconductor,  Motorola, Personal Communications Devices, Sony, Texas Instruments, Toshiba and UTStarcom.

Wi-LAN claims the companies are infringing its patent by making or selling various products enabled with Bluetooth technology including cellular handsets and personal notebook computers.

The 1996 patent concerned covers a "method for frequency sharing and frequency punch-out in frequency hopping communications network".

Wi-LAN wants unspecified compensation, plus triple damages for deliberate infringement and an order stopping the companies from continuing to sell their products.

The law firm handling the case, McKool Smith, has a good track record. A couple of weeks ago, it won VirnetX a rather nice $105.75 million verdict against Microsoft over virtual private network (VPN) technology.

The suit has been filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division - a place where they're very, very familiar with patent issues.