Home Business IT Networking You could be sued for using WiFi: patent troll targets hotspot operators

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A US patent troll has started legal action against a host of hotels, coffee shops etc that operate WiFi hotspots, alleging patent infringements. Were it to be successful, individual users of WiFi hotspots would be in breach of its patents.

The company, Innovatio IT Ventures, has been reported saying that it has no intention of pursing individual users at present. US web site http://patentexaminer.org/ quoted the lead litigator for Innovatio - Matthew McAndrews, a partner at Chicago-based law firm Niro, Haller & Niro - saying: "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."

Innovatio was formed in February this year and acquired the 17 patents that it is asserting from wireless chipmaker Broadcom. It had initially tried to take on WiFi equipment vendors Cisco and Motorola but then turned its attention to user organisations. Its most recent initiative has been to target dozens of individual branches of major hotel groups and coffee shop chains - including Ramada, Days Inn. Travelodge and Super 8 - that operate WiFi hotspots, some 200 in total.

Innovatio is seeking to have the targeted organisations prohibited from using any of the allegedly infringing WiFi products and is also seeking damages sustained as a result of the alleged infringements.

Following its initial assault on users earlier this year they turned to Cisco and Motorola for help and the two filed, in May, a complaint against Innovatio seeking a declaratory judgement for non-infringement and to have the 17 patents declared invalid.

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Stuart Corner

 

Tracking the telecoms industry since 1989, Stuart has been awarded Journalist Of The Year by the Australian Telecommunications Users Group (twice) and by the Service Providers Action Network. In 2010 he received the 'Kester' lifetime achievement award in the Consensus IT Writers Awards and was made a Lifetime Member of the Telecommunications Society of Australia. He was born in the UK, came to Australia in 1980 and has been here ever since.

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