Two weeks ago we noted a slew of infringement lawsuits brought by Wyncomm LLC, a non-practicing entity, against dozens of companies over a WiFi-related patent that was formerly owned by AT&T.  Today, yet another NPE accused multiple companies of infringing WiFi-related patents that used to belong to an telecommunications company.  This time, the NPE is an entity named Innovative Wireless Solutions LLC (“IWS”), and the patents it is asserting were originally owned by Northern Telecom (later Nortel Networks).  Unlike Wyncomm, who filed in Delaware, IWS filed its suits in the Eastern District of Texas.  And instead of targeting a number of hardware manufacturers like Apple and Asus, IWS filed suit against a variety of hotel chains large and small, including Marriott, Starwood, Wyndham and Grayson Hospitality.  (Hotel chains were also a popular target for Innovatio IP Ventures, another NPE asserting WiFi-related patents).  An example of one of the complaints filed today by IWS (against Marriott) may be viewed here.

[UPDATE] Since we first posted this, many more complaints filed by Innovative Wireless Solutions have come to light.  The defendants include not just hotels, but also other businesses such as coffee and sandwich shops (again, apparently taking a page right out of Innovatio’s playbook).  The full list of defendants, which is available after the jump, has been updated to reflect these other suits. [/UPDATE]


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e.d. tex caseIt’s well-known that concerns about patent assertions by non-practicing entities were part of the impetus for the America Invents Act of 2011.  In order to prevent multiple unrelated defendants from being added to the same infringement suit on the sole basis that they are accused of infringing the same patent, the AIA added the so-called “misjoinder” provision (35 U.S.C. § 299) to the patent laws.  Briefly, Section 299 provides that defendants are properly joined if (1) infringement is asserted against the defendants based on the same transaction or occurrence or as to the same accused product or process, and (2) questions of fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.  Over the past year and a half, courts have been grappling with evaluating whether otherwise unrelated defendants are properly joined in infringement actions.  In his recent ruling in an Eastern District of Texas case involving IEEE 802.3 Ethernet technology, Magistrate John D. Love held that standards-compliant system-on-a-chip (SoC) suppliers may be properly joined with their customers under Section 299.
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