Light Reading

Cisco Relents on Wi-LAN Claims

Light Reading
LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading
12/5/2005
50%
50%

When (Nasdaq: CSCO) settled its patent dispute with Wi-LAN Inc. (Toronto: WIN) last week, many wireless industry observers thought, "Chalk one up for the trolls."

Coming on the heels of a legal decision last week that set aside a settlement in the patent dispute between BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) (Nasdaq: RIMM; Toronto: RIM) and patent-holder NTP Software, the Cisco/Wi-LAN deal could be seen as emboldening so-called "patent trolls" -- companies that have little core business of their own but hold enforceable patents related to widespread technology used in products from larger, better known firms.

"I wouldn't be surprised if Cisco thought of Wi-LAN as a patent troll," says Pamela Samuelson, a law professor at UC Berkeley and the co-director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology.

That's a simplistic reading of the Wi-LAN case, though. In this case, while Cisco has challenged the Wi-LAN patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, Wi-LAN's claims seem more likely to hold up on appeal; the company has promised to "fairly and impartially" license the technology to anyone who wants to use it, and in May 2004 Redline Communications Inc. signed a royalty agreement with Wi-LAN, settling a case similar to the dispute with Cisco.

But the Wi-LAN case probably holds less significance for the wireless world than Qualcomm Inc.'s (Nasdaq: QCOM) acquisition of Flarion Technologies, which gives it a major intellectual-property position in emerging wireless technologies. And broader relief for product vendors that get sued by ostensible patent holders may be on the way, in the form of a Supreme Court ruling in the eBay vs. MercExchange case that should come next spring.

Founded in 1992 by two Canadian researchers, Wi-LAN holds a variety of patents related to orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM), a modulation technique at the heart of the WiFi standards 802.11a and 802.11g, as well as the emergent WiMax standard 802.16. Wi-LAN has taken a visible role in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) standards process for wireless data transfer and has not been shy about announcing its intention to enforce its patents.

"This legal action against Cisco puts the industry on notice that Wi-LAN will aggressively protect its patent right," said Sayed-Amr El Hamamsy, then-CEO of Wi-LAN, when the company sued Cisco in Canadian court last year. (See Wi-LAN Takes On WiFi.)

Under the settlement agreement, all Wi-LAN legal claims against Cisco have been dropped, and Cisco is purchasing several WiMax and antenna patents, while licensing the remainder of Wi-LAN's patent portfolio. But that doesn't end Wi-LAN's pursuit of other companies it sees as infringing upon its patents, according to current CEO Bill Dunbar.

"We do believe that other companies are infringing," says Dunbar, declining to name them. "We are not currently in talks with any of them."

While it's unlikely that the courts will eliminate the scourge of patent trolls altogether, notes Samuelson, it may give judges in such cases more leeway to promote "the useful arts" -- which, after all, is one of the purposes of patent law.

Rather than issuing injunctions that essentially shut down major services, such as BlackBerry email or eBay auctions, explains Samuelson, the high court could allow judges to award damages relating only to specific, patented components of larger systems. "The Supreme Court, in the eBay case, could say 'This is a really complex thing,' and give the lower courts the ability to exercise more discretion in finding for the plaintiffs."

In other words: If there's a patent troll at your door, it might be wise to pacify him for a while, rather than settle for major dollars.

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Last week I dropped in on "Hotlanta," Georgia to moderate Light Reading's inaugural DroneComm conference – a unique colloquium investigating the potential for drone communications to disrupt the world's telecom ecosystem. As you will see, it was a day of exploration and epiphany...
Between the CEOs
Affirmed Networks CEO: Digging Into NFV

5|28|15   |   40:26   |   (2) comments


Hassan Ahmed, CEO of Affirmed Networks, is making some big claims for his NFV startup. I sat down with him at the Light Reading HQ in New York City to get the skinny on what this Acton, Mass.-based startup is up to.
LRTV Documentaries
Cable Eyeing SDN for Headend, Home Uses

5|26|15   |   05:57   |   (1) comment


CableLabs is looking at virtualizing CMTS and CCAP devices in the headend, as well as in-home devices, says CableLabs' Karthik Sundaresan.
LRTV Documentaries
Verizon's Emmons: SDN Key to Cost-Effective Scaling

5|22|15   |   03:53   |   (0) comments


For Verizon and other network operators to ramp up available bandwidth cost effectively, they need to move to SDN and agree on how to do that.
LRTV Documentaries
Lack of Universal SDN a Challenge

5|21|15   |   04:51   |   (3) comments


Heavy Reading Analyst Sterling Perrin talks about how uncertainty about SDN standards and approaches may be slowing deployment.
LRTV Custom TV
Steve Vogelsang Interview: Carrier SDN

5|20|15   |   05:02   |   (0) comments


Sterling Perrin speaks to Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, about the new Carrier SDN-enabling Network Services Platform and the operator challenges it solves.
LRTV Custom TV
Carrier SDN: On-Demand Networks for an On-Demand World

5|20|15   |   20:52   |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, talks about requirements and benefits of Carrier SDN during the keynote address at the Light Reading Carrier SDN event May 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
The Security Challenge of SDN

5|19|15   |   02:52   |   (0) comments


CenturyLink VP James Feger discusses concerns that virtualization could create new vulnerabilities unless network operators build in safeguards.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Elasticity – Highly Available VNF Scale-Out Architectures for the Mobile Edge

5|18|15   |   5:50   |   (0) comments


Peter Marek and Paul Stevens from Advantech Networks and Communications Group talk about their NFV Elasticity initiative and the company's latest platforms for deploying virtual network functions at the edge of the network. Packetarium XL and the new Versatile Server Module: 'designed to reach parts of the network that other servers cannot reach.'
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Bay Area Spark Meetup 2015

5|14|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Developed in 2009, Apache Spark is a powerful open source processing engine built around speed, ease of use and sophisticated analytics. This spring, Huawei hosted a meetup for Spark developers and data scientists in Santa Clara, California. Light Reading spoke with organizers and attendees about Huawei's code contributions and long-term commitment to Spark.
LRTV Custom TV
The Transport SDN Buzz

5|12|15   |   06:01   |   (1) comment


Sterling Perrin, senior analyst at Heavy Reading, speaks with Peter Ashwood-Smith of Huawei and Guru Parulkar of ON.Lab about the evolution of transport SDN and the integration of technologies.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation CCAP: Cisco cBR-8 Evolved CCAP

5|5|15   |   04:49   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explained the innovation design of Cisco's cBR-8, the industry's first Evolved CCAP, including DOCSIS 3.1 design from ground-up, distributed CCAP with Remote PHY and path to virtualization. Cisco's cBR-8 Evolved CCAP is the platform that will last through the transitions.
LRTV Custom TV
Meeting the Demands of Bandwidth & Service Group Growth

5|1|15   |   5:35   |   (0) comments


Jorge Salinger, Comcast's Vice President of Access Architecture, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 and multi-service CCAP can meet the demands of the bandwidth and service group growth.
Upcoming Live Events
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Procera has gathered facts, stats and customer experience feedback from a survey of 540 users from across the globe.
Hot Topics
10 Alternate Uses for Tablets
Eryn Leavens, Copy Desk Editor, 5/22/2015
Bidding War for TWC Looks Likelier
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 5/22/2015
Charter Seals Deals for TWC, Bright House
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/26/2015
Eurobites: Alcatel-Lucent Trials 400G in Czech Republic
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 5/26/2015
Potholes Lurk in Indian Smart City Project
Gagandeep Kaur, Contributing Editor, 5/22/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
On May 29th 10 AM ET, Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, will be drilling into the "pains and gains" of NFV with Saar Gillai, SVP & GM for NFV at Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) (HP). He has defined a four-step NFV model describing a sequence of technology innovation. It's a must-read doc for any network architect looking to get to grips with their NFV migration strategy. Join us for the interview, and the chance to ask Saar your NFV questions directly!
Hassan Ahmed, CEO of Affirmed Networks, is making some big claims for his NFV startup. I sat down with him at the Light Reading HQ in New York City to get the skinny on what this Acton, Mass.-based startup is up to.
With 200 customers in 60 countries, Stockholm-based Net Insight has carved out a solid leadership position in one of the hottest vertical markets going in comms right now: helping service providers and broadcasters deliver video and other multimedia traffic over IP networks. How has Net Insight managed to achieve this success in the face of immense competition from the industry giants?
Cats with Phones