New NPE going after companies who offer “hotspots”

Innovatio IP Ventures, LLC acquired a portfolio of 31 Wi-Fi-related patents in March of this year (most of them were invented in the 1990s and early 2000s by Robert Meier and Ronald Mahany who worked for companies acquired later by Broadcom). Innovatio soon began seeking licenses from alleged infringers, for now, companies who offer Wi-Fi “hotspots” to their customers and/or employees, and then sought injunctive and damages relief from the courts.

Innovatio’s targets are individual locations of several hotel chains, (Comfort Inn, Hyatt, Marriott, Kimpton, etc.) and café chains (Panera Bread and Caribou Coffee).The company is asking for paid-up licensing fees between $2,300 and $5,000 from each location, much less than would cost a protracted legal battle.

Innovatio’s pitch is that “the most reasonable, practical, and economical course of action is for the parties to amicably and promptly resolve issues relating to the use of Innovatio Patents through a suitable negotiated licensing arrangement. To that end, and to encourage the continued use of Innovatio’s essential patented technology in the marketplace, Innovatio proposes granting [name of company] an upfront, paid-up license for its use under all of 31 of the issued Innovatio Patents.”

Organizations receiving notice from Innovatio are asking for indemnification from their suppliers.  Motorola, Cisco and SonicWall have jumped into the fray to remove the threat of lawsuit from their customers, either by asking the court to rule the patents invalid or by proving the patents are under license from a third-party licensee.