Tech lawsuits: Is it time for a "U.S. District Court of Technology" with its own bench?

Summary:Somewhere in the back of my mind, the fact that I have seen multiple news headlines having to do with new or ongoing lawsuits in the tech industry was gnawing at me. So, I decided to search ZDNet on the words "infringement" and "lawsuit" to see what came up.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, the fact that I have seen multiple news headlines having to do with new or ongoing lawsuits in the tech industry was gnawing at me. So, I decided to search ZDNet on the words "infringement" and "lawsuit" to see what came up. Here, in no particular order is what just a part of the industry's legal docket looks like.

NTP slaps Palm with patent infringement suit: NTP, the company behind the epic patent infringement lawsuit against BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, is now going after Palm....In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Virginia on Monday, NTP asserted that Palm's products, services, systems and processes infringe on NTP's patents.

Forget settles JPEG patent cases: Forgent Networks has settled its lawsuit concerning the so-called JPEG patents for $8 million, a fraction of what the company initially sought. The company, an intellectual property firm that licenses communications technology and software for business meetings, announced on Wednesday that it has reached a settlement with all of the remaining claims in the cases involving U.S. patent number 4,698,672. The company said that the JPEG standard--the image compression mechanism used in digital cameras and PCs--infringed upon the patent, which Forgent acquired in 1997.

'Grand Theft Auto' maker loses round in lawsuit: A federal judge refused a request from Take-Two Interactive Software to immediately dismiss some claims in a lawsuit accusing it of selling "Grand Theft Auto" video games containing sexually explicit images under the wrong content label....The lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, said Take-Two's alleged misconduct violated consumer protection laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Since the suit was filed in July 2005, a number of cases making the same claim have been consolidated in Manhattan federal court.

Supreme court to review Microsoft patent appeal: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to wade into a patent case involving Microsoft and AT&T. The outcome could alter the scope of damages that software companies must hand over for infringing activity occurring abroad....The case dates back to 2001, when AT&T sued Microsoft in federal court. The telephone company alleged that the speech codec software included in Windows loaded on computers infringed on one of its patents, which covered a "digital speech coder."

Amazon files objection to Google subpoena: Amazon.com has declined to hand over information on its book search tools to Google for use in a copyright lawsuit....The Internet retailer on Friday filed the response and objection to a subpoena Google had filed concerning Amazon's searching and indexing functions for book texts. In the filing at U.S. District Court in Seattle, the company stated that the requested information is "highly confidential, proprietary and constitutes trade secrets."....Amazon also objected on the grounds that the request was "overly broad" and "unduly burdensome," essentially requiring the company to produce "millions of documents."

SGI sues ATI for patent infringement: Silicon Graphics has sued ATI Technologies, alleging the graphics chipmaker infringed a computer-graphics patent that ATI's competitors have licensed....SGI argues that ATI's Radeon graphics chips use technology in the patent, No. 6,650,327, and seeks unspecified damages. The move comes just days after SGI exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with new financing, a trimmed-down product line and new executives and board members...."SGI has licensed this technology to ATI's major competitors and, as I have previously been stating publicly, SGI intends to aggressively protect and enforce its intellectual property," said Dennis McKenna, SGI's CEO since January, in a statement.

Court to reconsider stay in Qualcomm patent suit (vs. Nokia): A U.S. appeals court on Friday ordered a lower court to reconsider a decision that denied Nokia's request to stay a patent infringement lawsuit filed by wireless technology company Qualcomm.....The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated a March 14 ruling by a federal court in California and asked the court to take another look at Nokia's request to put Qualcomm's lawsuit on hold pending arbitration....At issue is a lawsuit filed by Qualcomm in November that seeks to stop Finland's Nokia, the world's No. 1 mobile phone maker, from selling certain mobile phone products in the United States, and demanding unspecified monetary damages from Nokia.....The lawsuit involves 11 Qualcomm patents and one belonging to its subsidiary, SnapTrack.

Sony suits sinks game retailer: Lik-Sang, a Hong Kong-based online game retailer, is closing down after Sony's latest court win against the company....Sony's computer entertainment division, which sued Lik-Sang for copyright infringement in 2002, more recently hauled Lik-Sang to court a second time. Its complaint claimed that Lik-Sang had infringed Sony trademarks, copyrights and registered design rights by selling Japanese PlayStation Portable consoles to European customers. Lik-Sang did not send legal representatives to the London court hearing on the matter, and the judge found in favor of Sony.

IBM: Amazon violates our patents: IBM has targeted Amazon.com with two patent infringement lawsuits filed Monday, claiming that the online retail giant is willfully exploiting a number of its patents....The patents deal with intellectual property issues ranging from advertising to hyperlink technology to electronic catalogs. Financial information concerning the magnitude of the damages was not disclosed....."These are high-quality patents," said IBM spokesman Edward Barbini. "To not enforce our patent rights would be a discredit to those who fairly and lawfully use these licenses." See also: my blog on this.

Universal music sues two video sharing sites: Universal Music Group said on Tuesday it has filed lawsuits against video-sharing sites Grouper and Bolt.com for allowing users to swap pirated versions of its musicians' videos....Universal, whose artists include U2, Mary J Blige and Mariah Carey, said it is seeking damages up to as much as $150,000 for each incident of copyright infringement plus costs. It estimated that thousands of music videos were being viewed on both sites, to their benefit alone....Grouper and Bolt.com "cannot reasonably expect to build their business on the backs of our content and the hard work of our artists and songwriters without permission and without compensating the content creators," a Universal spokesman said.

Transmeta sues Intel for patent infringement: Transmeta, the chip designer that once tried to take on Intel in the notebook market, is suing Intel for patent infringement....Santa Clara, Calif.-based Transmeta alleges that Intel violated 10 of its patents and that the intellectual property behind these patents is embodied in $100 billion worth of chips sold by Intel. The claim extends back to the P6 generation of chips, which includes the Pentium Pro and Pentium II, and forward to the latest Core 2 Duo processors....The case was filed Wednesday in a U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware....The patents relate to power efficiency. Transmeta alleges that Intel infringed on one of its patents when it inserted a technology called "enhanced SpeedStep" into its models, said John Horsely, Transmeta's general counsel. Enhanced SpeedStep essentially slows down a chip when not in use to cut power consumption.

Limewire, squeezed, files countersuit:One of the last remaining peer-to-peer havens is fighting to stay alive.....Lime Wire, which was hit with a lawsuit in August by Warner Bros. Records, Virgin Records America, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and other music labels, filed a counterclaim in U.S. District Court in New York on Monday. The software company alleges in court filings that the record companies have engaged in unfair business practices to scare away its users....Lime Wire develops peer-to-peer technology, which is often used by individuals to create copies of music and distribute it over the Internet. More than a dozen record companies have joined in the lawsuit against Lime Wire, alleging that its technology provides a means for copyright infringement.

And that's just a few of them. Oy.

Topics: Legal

About

David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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