Texas Instruments and Dell Do Not Infringe Wi-LAN “Bluetooth” Patent

Patent Calls, Inc.'s independent analyst research shows Wi-LAN patent infringement complaint against 19 companies, including Dell and Intel, is unfounded.
By: Patent Calls, Inc.
 
April 14, 2010 - PRLog -- Seeking to capitalize on patents it acquired that were originally conceived by now defunct mesh networking company Metricom, patent troll Wi-LAN has sued Texas Instruments and Dell, along with 19 other companies including technology heavyweights Intel, Motorola, Apple and Sony.

However, contrary to Wi-LAN’s claims in the complaint filed April 7, 2010 in the Eastern District Court of Texas, an independent analyst report by Patent Calls, Inc. has concluded that compliance with the Bluetooth standard does not require infringement of Wi-LAN patent U.S. 5,515,369 (‘369).  Wi-LAN recently purchased the ‘369 patent in March 2010.

In the complaint, Wi-LAN states that the companies infringe their patent because they make “products with wireless capability compliant with the Bluetooth standards.” However, Patent Call’s detailed review of the Bluetooth specification, along with the ‘369 patent, identified several fundamental differences.

Primarily, Wi-LAN’s patent claims provide for a channel mask (or “channel map” in the Bluetooth standard) that identifies each wireless device’s interference or reception problem channels and subsequently disallows their use.  However, the Bluetooth standard only allows each device to classify channels as “good” or “bad”.  In Bluetooth, only the master of the network creates a list that eliminates use of specific channels.

Perhaps more troubling for Wi-LAN is the fact that the Bluetooth standard specifically states that the channel map “is not defined in the specification and will be implementation specific.”  This means that at a minimum Wi-LAN will need to do some more homework to establish whether or not each defendant is using Wi-LAN patented technology.

In an email to Patent Calls, Chuck Malloy of Intel stated that this is the 4th suit of its kind by Wi-LAN against Intel. He also mentioned that Wi-LAN has sued this same set of defendants previously in the same venue, over the “Bluetooth” patent as well as other standards-based technology.

In fact, Wi-LAN, which is based in Ottawa, Canada, is no stranger to the courts. The company currently has 10 on-going suits in litigation. Most are pending in the Eastern District of Texas.

The ‘369 patent purports to be an improvement upon a frequency hopping technology that was patented by actress Hedy Lamar and composer George Antheil who originally used a piano-roll to change between 88 frequencies. The two received a patent in 1942, US Patent 2,292,387, for their invention which was used to make radio-guided torpedoes harder for enemies to detect.

It remains to be seen if Wi-LAN’s accusations will stick and of course, only a judge or jury can ultimately decide.  Furthermore, there is no doubt that Metricom was a groundbreaking, innovative company, but they did not invent frequency hopping or Bluetooth.  The company originally developed one of the first internet services providers, Ricochet, in the U.S. back in 1994.  The Metricom Ricochet service eventually proved too expensive and lost out to faster wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi and GPRS.  Metricom filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early 2001.

The only question remaining is can Wi-LAN convince the judicial system that the Metricom and Bluetooth technologies are the same?  Wi-LAN is asking the court for damages for past and present infringement, as well as attorney’s fees and pre-and post-judgment interest.

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Patent Calls is a unique source for meaningful and independent information regarding patents. We offer clients independent reviews and analysis encompassing all types of patents.
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Source:Patent Calls, Inc.
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Tags:Patent Calls, Patent Infringement, Dell, Intel, Apple, Motorola, ti, Wi-lan, Metricom, Bluetooth Patent, Bluetooth
Industry:Business, Mobile, Technology
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