Wi-LAN Sues Research In Motion

by Jordan Richardson on January 24, 2012

Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie may be out, but the trouble hasn’t stopped for Research In Motion. The beleaguered tech company is now facing a patent suit from Ottawa-based firm Wi-LAN Inc.

The suit was filed in a United States district court in Florida and involves two patents – U.S. Patent No. 5,515,369 and U.S. Patent No. 6,232,969 – that Wi-LAN alleges RIM infringed on.

According to the claim, Wi-LAN has been “irreparably harmed and monetarily harmed.” There is no financial amount attached to the claim currently, but Wi-LAN does say that RIM should play “triple the damages” should they be found to have wilfully infringed on said patents.

The first patent refers to how BlackBerry smartphones and PlayBook tablets make use of Bluetooth. According to Wi-LAN, some 60 RIM devices infringe on that patent alone. The suit says that RIM should have known it was infringing on this patent because it is the current subject of more litigation between the Wi-LAN and RIM supplier Texas Instruments.

The other patent refers to the “sym” key on some of the recent BlackBerry products, like the Bold, Curve, Touch, and Pearl.

According to a Wi-LAN spokeswoman, the suit has nothing to do with the recent changing of the guard at RIM and is simply “part of the normal course of business.”

Wi-LAN was founded in 1992 and serves as a “leading technology innovation and licensing company.” According to its website, Wi-LAN has licensed technologies to over 250 companies. The business model for the company is to acquire “or develop” new patents that it can then negotiate the licenses to. When companies infringe on patents or even allegedly infringe on patents, Wi-LAN fires up the litigation machine. Such is “the normal course of business” for this patent house.

Wi-LAN has shown in the past that it is willing to go through long and convoluted legal webbing to get its way through litigation, too, so RIM could be in this fight for the long haul unless it chooses to pay out. Again, part of the “normal course of business” for Wi-LAN.

Thorsten Heins, the new boss at RIM, certainly has his work cut out for him over the next while as he tries to breathe new life into the Waterloo company. This patent suit won’t help matters.

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Written by: Jordan Richardson. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSSTwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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