September 30, 2011 - Innovatio IP Ventures, LLC, a Delaware-based company, filed a flurry of patent infringement lawsuits against branches of major hotel chains including Hyatt Corporation, Marriott Hotels, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Ramada Inn, Best Western, Days Inn, Super 8 Hotels, and Travelodge - in all, more than 220 individual hotels in Illinois.
Innovatio claims that the hotels' offering of wireless local area network (WLAN) technology to their customers infringes 17 of its 31 patents.
This is not the first time that Innovatio has asserted its patents. In March 2011, the company filed suit against several coffee shops and restaurant chains that offer free WiFi to their patrons.
What makes these lawsuits unusual is that rather than demanding millions of dollars or ongoing damages, Innovatio is requesting a one-time, lump sum payment of between $2,300 and $5,000 from each of the hundreds of defendants in its lawsuits.
With the payment much lower than the cost of patent litigation, it's very likely that many defendants will settle - and some already have, according to Matthew McAndrews, one of Innovatio's attorneys and a partner at law firm Niro, Haller & Niro.
“We want you to continue to use this technology, we just want our client to get his due share,” McAndrews said. “This is not a seat-of-the-pants, fly-by-night shakedown.”
The lawsuits raise the troubling question of whether Innovatio will eventually target residential WiFi. However, first Innovatio will have to face down legal challenges from Motorola Solutions and Cisco Systems - both of which have sued Innovatio.