Patent Troll Leaves Door Open to Sue Home WiFi Users

There’s a reason Shakespeare’s famous quote in Henry VI, “First thing we do is kill all the lawyers” resonates today and will continue to resonate through ages to come. TechDirt is reporting that the law firm of Niro, Haller, & Niro, which apparently is the firm that gave us the name patent troll, is following another trend. They are lowering the amounts the sue for and trying to make it up in volume. In this case they have a patent on WiFi implementation and have been hitting up franchises of businesses like Panera, Best Western, Caribou Coffee, and places that you see that big Free WiFi sign. In doing so they demand a payment in the neighborhood of $2300 to $5000, which is obviously cheaper than trying to fight the suit.

That’s bad enough, but an attorney for the firm, Matthew McAndrews, while saying at the moment they won’t be suing individual WiFi users in the home, they are only doing so as a strategic decision. In fact, he’s quoted in the TechDirt article as saying,

Ultimately, he said, Innovatio’s “plan is to license this portfolio to the fullest extent possible. That would include anyone who’s wireless networking.

We want you to continue to use this technology, we just want our client to get his due share,” McAndrews said. “This is not a seat-of-the-pants, fly-by-night shakedown.

As the TechDirt article says, I guess he means this is a well-planned, well-financed shakedown.

And we wonder why there is a debate over whether to regulate or not regulate business.