Today's paper has the (not widely published) report that Netgear is being sued for patent infringement over its Wi-Fi gear. Netgear (along with Cisco-owned Linksys) is one of the decade-old commodity producers of network equipment, but is more recently facing competition from Chinese brands.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday, according to Bloomberg:
This is really interesting for several reasons:
Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Netgear Inc., the maker of networking equipment for homes and small businesses, was sued by Fujitsu Ltd., LG Electronics Inc. and Royal Philips Electronics NV over patents covering wireless computer networks.
Fujitsu, LG and Philips are part of a patent-licensing pool created in 2004. Participants share inventions covering the so- called 802.11 standard, a protocol for wireless local area networks that lets computers talk to each other at high speeds.
While Netgear refuses to pay royalties to patent holders in the pool, it claims in advertisements that its products comply with the standard, Fujitsu, LG and Philips said Dec. 17 in a complaint in federal court in Madison, Wisconsin. Netgear products targeted in the suit include wireless routers, personal- computer cards and adapters.
- With the notable exception of MPEG4, patent pools have been rarely successful for coordinating patent holder interests.
- Thus far, IEEE standards such as Wi-Fi seem to have had fewer patent suits than most other standard (although Buffalo Technology lost a case last year).
- Fujitsu, LG and Philips are not major producers of this gear except in their respective home markets.