R&D Firm Sues Apple, Google, Others for Patent Infringement

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Research and development lab Walker Digital filed 15 lawsuits Tuesday against more than 100 companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Ebay, Facebook, Wal-mart, Groupon, Sony, and Amazon. The company is accusing the companies of patent infringement involving its portfolio of some 400 issued and pending patents.

“We are disappointed that after reaching out to so many companies in an effort to secure reasonable licenses, we were consistently told that without litigation our requests would not be taken seriously,” CEO Jon Ellenthal said in a statement.

Walker Digital differs from at least some of the patent trolls that have sued Apple in recent years in that all of its patents were developed internally and the company works to bring many of those inventions to market. Walker Digital has founded a number of startups based on its technologies, including Priceline.com, and also works other companies to commercialize its inventions.

A “patent troll,” on the other hand, is often a company that has filed for patents, or even purchased patents from other individuals or companies, that it thinks it can litigate into licensing revenue. Digital Walker’s press release makes a concerted effort to distance itself from the ranks of patent trolls.

For instance, the company stipulates that, “All of Walker Digital’s patents were created internally by invention teams at the company,” and that, “No patents have been purchased from other companies or inventors.”

The company also said that, “Filing these lawsuits is not a step we sought or preferred,” adding, “the unwillingness of those companies using our property to enter into joint commercial agreements has forced us to take an action that we had hoped to avoid.”

Another difference between Walker Digital and many of the patent trolls that The Mac Observer has covered in recent years is that the lawsuits were filed not in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Marshall, TX, a court that is known for being friendly to such suits, but rather in a federal court in Delaware.

The last such distinction is that Walker Digital is a well-funded company that can afford to take these cases to courts. The company claims $200 million in patent licensing revenue, and whatever else the company has earned through the companies it has founded (Walker Digital is privately held and thus doesn’t have to disclose the particulars of its business operations).

Walker Digital’s announcement didn’t include the specific patents it is accusing Apple and the other companies of violating.

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Why does the author go to such length to distinguish Walker Digital from a “patent troll.”  It seems that half the article is dedicated to deamonizing patent trolls by implication.  Bottom line one of the greatest rights we have in the USA is the right to patent and to exercise the rights granted by a patent.  Patents can be bought and sold.  Who cares if it is the inventor or the buyer of the patent pursuing their rights.  Lay off the trolls!

Joey Botch

I am not sure what this story is about.  What patents are being sued over?  Is this a patent about trolls? Should there be a troll tax? Have we lost our way when it comes to journalism? Wont someone think of the troll children? So many questions…


They are differentiating them from a company called “Apple”, which is trolling patents lately.  But it’s ironic that they have more than a dozen pending lawsuits against them.


Because Bryan Chaffin knows we hate ?patent troll.? They are the Taliban of innovation. Patents laws are being abused, and until we admit their being abused and changed them, we will have read about the rags to riches Fairy tale that sold so many in the united states on the nobility of patents. There not true, but we want them to be. it is just this type of ignorance to the problem that makes in impossible to in-act change.  So Bryan is doing his part to bring attention to a possible differences, and at the same time vilify the patent trolls as he should.

Laurie Fleming

Bottom line one of the greatest rights we have in the USA is the right to patent and to exercise the rights granted by a patent.

Lay off the trolls!



Annnnnyway…Back to the article.

Let’s just say I’m suspicious. When someone declines to state even vaguely what their patents cover and yet file suit against nearly everyone in the industry, and so obviously tries to play the victim,  I have my doubts.

They might have a legitimate claim, no way to tell yet. If it were JUST Apple, or JUST Google, or JUST MS that had violated their property I’d be more sympathetic. But when they claim that most of the biggest companies in the industry have been violating their patents for a long time and none of them would negotiate, it doesn’t wash.  I suspect that all of the legal teams for all of these companies have independently decided that the patents either don’t cover what the company is claiming they do, are obvious and the patent will be voided, or Walker Digital is just blowing smoke. That’s a lot of lawyers for a lot of companies that are all looking for a competitive advantage. If there were a solid claim here don’t you think a FEW of them would have settled? That Sony might have paid up to get the rights to the technology? That MS or Google might have bought them out or at least tried to?

This just smells bad.


> Because Bryan Chaffin knows we hate ?patent troll.? They are the Taliban of innovation.

Of course there are abuses to patent laws, like any other complex set of laws.  However, I believe it can be argued that it is not the patent law, or trolls that restrict innovation.  It is, imho, much more likely that large corporations like Apple buy up patent rights and entire companies in an effort to avoid destructive technology, innovation, and competition they represent.  Troll-on!

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