Early in January we noted that a non-practicing entity named Steelhead Licensing had filed a number of complaints for patent infringement against various wireless device manufacturers and cellular carriers.  Of particular note in those suits was that the patent at issue in all of the actions — U.S. Pat. No. 5,491,834, entitled “Mobile Radio Handover Initiation Determination” — was previously owned by British Telecom, is due to expire next month, and (according to Steelhead, apparently) is essential to various 3G and 4G wireless communications standards.  On Friday, January 11, Steelhead expanded its assertion activities relating to the ‘834 patent, filing infringement actions against Acer, Amazon.com, Asustek, and Dell.

Steelhead’s new complaints against Acer, Amazon.com, Asustek, and Dell claim that products sold by these companies that comply with certain wireless communications standards (specifically the UMTS 3G standard and the LTE 4G standard) infringe the ‘834 patent.  Representative accused products identified by Steelhead include UMTS/LTE-compliant notebook and tablet computers, such as the Acer Aspire AO722 notebook, Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, Asus Transformer Pad TF300TL tablet, and the Dell Streak 7 tablet.  Because Steelhead’s assertions are directed to standards-compliant activities, there may be FRAND obligations attaching to the ‘834 patent — but as described more fully in our earlier post regarding Steelhead, this topic is not addressed in Steelhead’s complaints, and is likely to be hashed out (if at all) in the course of litigation.

Each of Steelhead’s new complaints may be accessed from the links below:

[UPDATE] Since we posted this, Steelhead filed two additional complaints relating to the ‘834 patent in U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.  One complaint was filed against a variety of Puerto Rican telecommunications services companies and is based on UMTS/LTE devices, while the other complaint was filed against Infosonics (a provider of handsets to emerging markets) based on UMTS-compliant devices.