Over a year ago, we reported on the patent lawsuits brought by Innovatio IP Ventures LLC against a host of companies that offer free WiFi to their customers. The defendants in that litigation include over 220 individual hotels in Illinois. Interestingly, however, Innovatio didn't file lawsuits against Motorola Solutions and Cisco Systems - the companies that manufacture the WiFi equipment used in the alleged infringement.
But Cisco, Motorola and Netgear Inc. aren't taking chances. The three companies are co-plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against Innovatio. In their complaint, the plaintiffs claim that Innovatio - which they say has sent about 8,000 "threatening letters" to hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and other WiFi-providing retailers - uses tactics that are “misleading, fraudulent and unlawful" and amount to an extortion scheme that violates anti-racketeering laws.
It's an uphill fight for Cisco et al, because to prevail in their claims, they'll have to prove that 1) Innovatio's allegations are full of hot air and 2) Innovatio knew they were full of hot air and filed suit anyway. As of this writing, any day now, Innovatio is expected to ask the federal judge assigned to the case to dismiss it.
But the plaintiffs' windmill-tilting might yet accomplish something. If the case isn't dismissed, it could prove to be a real bee in Innovatio's bonnet, diverting time and resources from the company's many other legal battles. And for the critics of non-practicing entities, that outcome might be worth the time and expense involved in filing a lawsuit.
In other news, Cisco's CEO, John Chambers, called on IT companies such as Apple, Samsung and Microsoft to stop suing each other. "IT companies should not be suing peers," he said last month at a Gartner Symposium conference in Florida, because fighting such lawsuits "slows down the industry." (We're not holding our breath on that one, either.)
Chambers does point out the double standard that large corporations call the patent assertion entities patent trolls and all other kinds of names, yet they sue each other when their patents are infringed. Needs to be the same rules for everyone, right?