WiLAN, an Ottawa based company, has filed suit against a slew of major cable providers, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Charter over patent infringements.
The suit was filed in Texas and claims that these companies have infringed on WiLAN’s patent by (ready for this?) “offering for sale, selling, operating, advertising, and marketing cable systems and cable modem products.” I read through the patent (US Patent #5,761,602) which was issued in 1998 and is for “hybrid multichannel data transmission system utilizing a broadcast medium”.
Basically, they thought of cable television first. So now they are suing providers for offering such a service.
I know I am probably on my own on this one, but after last weeks Motorola V. Microsoft battle began, I’m over these IP suits. Take the case of WiLAN, when was the last time you heard of that company, let alone was offered cable service from them? Never mind the fact that they are located in Canada. If they win the suit, there’s a hundred different outcomes, including a royalty fee to be paid, which would no doubt affect your rates, or even the cancellation of the service completely.
With all of the patent suits being launched and companies clamoring for “intellectual property”, I have to wonder if it’s not time to change what patents are granted for. Technology is growing and changing at such a pace, should we be more picky about the thoughts or eventual patents being issued? This isn’t the first suit that has been filed, nor will it be the last. At what point do we have to change or will IP suits continue to be the way to grab your piece of a technologically advanced pie?