Wi-LAN and RIM settle patent dispute

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Shake handsYou might remember Ottawa-based Wi-LAN recently putting the legal screws to RIM over some CDMA and Wi-Fi patents in late June. Well, the dispute has mysteriously drawn to a close, but considering Wi-LAN is saying their financial results will be better this year because of the case’s turnout, it’s probably safe to say RIM settled with them and licensed the patents. Can’t win ‘em all, eh? When we first reported on the issue, a lot of people defended the company when called a “patent troll“. GeorgeD made a very good point…

The fact of the matter is that patent violations are part of the cost of doing business, only the big companies have largely gotten used to ignoring those who can’t afford to take them on, or otherwise buying them outright.

What do you guys think – do folks in the patent business get an unfairly bad rap around these parts? What differentiates a “patent troll” from more legitimate patent work?

(via Yahoo!)

  • Jim

    Generally, a “troll” is considered to be a non-producing entity that buys up patents with the sole purpose of creating licensing revenue. They are distinguished from producing entities because the producing entities will frequently wind up in a cross-licensing situation with other producing entities, thus resulting in little actual capital outlay on either company’s part while, at the same time, ensuring access to desired technologies. A non-producing entity, by contrast, doesn’t have the same motivation to settle – if they know they have the infringer “dead to rights”, then they can exact an exhorbitant fee. I don’t disagree with George, either. Trolls actually represent an economically efficient solution to patent enforcement. Some don’t just buy intellectual property at bankruptcy sales, either – some are actively in the business of promoting enforcement campaigns for the “little guys”, and will even give them a decent cut considering the risks. There are some “reputable” (if you can use that term) trolls out there, who are known for doing their homework before buying a patent or portfolio, and letters from them are very unnerving for accused infringers. Like George said, the companies can’t afford to ignore the little guys any more when they have deeper pockets behind them.

  • Jim

    Generally, a “troll” is considered to be a non-producing entity that buys up patents with the sole purpose of creating licensing revenue. They are distinguished from producing entities because the producing entities will frequently wind up in a cross-licensing situation with other producing entities, thus resulting in little actual capital outlay on either company’s part while, at the same time, ensuring access to desired technologies. A non-producing entity, by contrast, doesn’t have the same motivation to settle – if they know they have the infringer “dead to rights”, then they can exact an exhorbitant fee. I don’t disagree with George, either. Trolls actually represent an economically efficient solution to patent enforcement. Some don’t just buy intellectual property at bankruptcy sales, either – some are actively in the business of promoting enforcement campaigns for the “little guys”, and will even give them a decent cut considering the risks. There are some “reputable” (if you can use that term) trolls out there, who are known for doing their homework before buying a patent or portfolio, and letters from them are very unnerving for accused infringers. Like George said, the companies can’t afford to ignore the little guys any more when they have deeper pockets behind them.