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Wi-Lan loses 3GPP patent suit

Ericsson, Alcal-Lu, HTC and Sony didn't infringe

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Wi-Lan seems a step closer to having to wear the tag “patent troll”, with an East Texas federal jury tossing out its patent suit against Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, HTC and Sony.

The patents at issue had been acquired from Airspan Networks. They included techniques such as channel pooling, subscriber terminals (mobile phones), and TDM techniques, encoders and decoders.

US patent 6,008,326, 6,222,819 and 6,318,211 all covered wireless data processing, while 6,195,327 covers interference control.

Wi-Lan had asserted that products implementing 3GPP standards infringed these patents, and began its litigation based on the patents in 2010. LG, also named in the original suit, settled in favour of paying royalties to Wi-Lan, but the other four companies decided to fight it out.

As Bloomberg notes, this is the first time Wi-Lan's patent suits have been brought to trial, and the result includes invalidation of three of the four patents.

HTC says it believes “Wi-Lan has exaggerated the scope of its patent in order to extract unwarranted licensing royalties from entities who have been focused on bringing innovation forward in their own products”, while Alcatel-Lucent spokesperson Kurt Steinert told Bloomberg the result “validates our belief that Wi-Lan was stretching the boundaries of its patents”.

However, the Financial Post reports that with a $US170-million war chest and other patent trials in the pipeline, Wi-Lan will survive even though it quotes Cantor Fitzgerald lawyer Justin Kew called the outcome a “worst case scenario” for the company. ®

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