Reefedge Networks, a Delaware based entity sued at least 15 product companies over the last 4 weeks. The defendants include everybody having significant revenues active in the WLAN domain. Some of the notable defendants are – Avaya, Netgear, Enterasys, Aruba, Motorola Mobility, Cisco, and Meru Networks.
All the cases have been filed with the Delaware District Court and in most of the cases, plaintiff is represented by Farnan IP of Round Rock and Intellectual Ventures fame. Language of the complaint is very interesting as rather than coming directly to the point, the complaint brags about how supposedly Reefedge invented the first WLAN management system and how all the companies including CISCO relied on mission critical technology provided by Reefedge. These days complaint document is also acting as publicity material.
At the heart of it are 3 patents related to WLAN Management systems enabling seamless roaming. A quick check at the USPTO assignment database reveals that the 3 patents in question – US6633761, US6975864, and US7197308 still have Symantec as the assignee. This looks like another instance of a product company falling for easy money by engaging hired gunmen. This is not the first instance when Symantec patents have been used to extort money out of operating companies. Recently, Symantec patents were used by STEC IP and Data Carrier (both NPEs) for litigations. Interestingly, Delaware was again the battleground. Looking at the fingerprints, it seems that Intellectual Ventures is again the hand pulling the strings, but some of the Intellectual Venture investors like CISCO are also sued by Reefedge, so hard to say who is actually the villain here.
All said and done, patents belonging to a well performing product company being used by NPEs to target other product companies is not a good sight. PatentBlast is committed and geared to confront the NPE nuisance to ensure a productive innovation ecosystem.
It is anybody’s guess that how strong are these Reefedge patents, as neither Symantec nor Reefedge was the pioneer in the domain of WLAN management systems. A diligent search and re-examination would teach these folks a good an well earned lesson.