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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:16

WiLAN sues everybody over Bluetooth IPR claims


Canadian company, WiLAN, has launched litigation over alleged infringements of its Bluetooth patents against a who's who of leading chipmaker and IT equipment vendors.

It has commenced litigation in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division against Acer, Apple, Atheros Communications, Belkin, Broadcom, Dell, D-Link, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Lenovo, LG Electronics, Marvell Semiconductor, Motorola, Personal Communications Devices, Sony, Texas Instruments, Toshiba and UTStarcom.

WiLAN claims that these companies have infringed and continue to infringe US Patent No 5,515,369 by making and/or selling various products enabled with Bluetooth technology including cellular handsets and personal notebook computers.

According to the website of the US patent office the patent was granted in 1996 and assigned to Metricom of California. It specifies a method of method for frequency sharing and frequency punchout in frequency hopping communications network.

The method enables each node in a multimode network to specify a random channel hopping sequence that it will use to for data transfer and a means by which it can communicate that sequence ot other nodes in the network.

Metricom had ambitious plans for large scale wireless mesh network in the US more than a decade ago but went bankrupt. It is not known how WiLAN came into possession of the patent.


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WiLAN will be represented by McKool Smith, a law firm that it says "has successfully defended the patent rights of many high profile companies throughout the US and has particular expertise in the Eastern District of Texas."

WiLAN was founded in 1992. The company is not itself a manufacturer, rather it lists as its mission "Developing, protecting, and monetizing technology intellectual property. Introducing inventions with mass appeal to the world."

\It claims to have licensed its intellectual property to over 220 companies worldwide and to a large and growing portfolio of more than 800 issued or pending patents.

One of these, in part at least, is the early patent on CDMA technology developed by 1940s Hollywood actress, Hedy Lamarr.

According to her entry on Wikipedia "Lamarr's and [her neighbour, composer George] Antheil's frequency-hopping idea serves as a basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology, such as COFDM used in Wi-Fi network connections and CDMA'¦In 1998'¦Wi-LAN 'acquired a 49 percent claim to the patent from Lamarr for an undisclosed amount of stock'." (Lamarr died in January 2000).

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