Friday, March 25, 2005

Patent litigation in RFID between Intermec and Symbol

from informationweek:

Intermec Technologies Corp. on March 23, 2005 hit Symbol Technologies Inc. with a lawsuit that alleges infringement on six Intermec patents. The lawsuit is the latest in a string of legal battles between the two companies, which compete in the market for radio-frequency identification and wireless technologies.

"Symbol's unauthorized use of Intermec's patents is a clear violation of patent law and involves a substantial part of Symbol's automated data-capture product line," Intermec president Tom Miller said in a prepared statement. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.


At last count Intermec had sued Symbol for infringing on six major Intermec patents covering key Intermec wireless access, terminal and software technologies. Intermec’s lawsuit is in fact a response to Symbol’s lawsuit against Intermec filed last month accusing the latter of infringing on basic Symbol patents in the wireless networking area, which are more commonly known as Wi Fi.

In their press release of March 24, Intermec explained their position saying that “Symbol’s decision earlier this month to terminate a supply contract (Intermec used to buy laser scanning systems from Symbol) with us and to sue us for patent infringement frees us to defend ourselves against Symbol's claims and to prosecute our own patent infringement claims against Symbol.”

Intermec was determined to stave off every attempt Symbol made to collect royalties for public domain technology and also to stop them from unlawful use of “our patented inventions.” the press release said.

Automated data capture technologies or ADCs are seen as the next step in the evolutionary chain of ‘tagging’ for identification and tracking of products in huge supply chains. From among these ADCs, radio frequency identification (RFID) devices are rapidly growing in popularity and being promoted by the Defense Department as well as leading store chain Wal-Mart and major consumer manufacturers as a far more efficient way to tag and track commercial products compared to bar codes.

Symbol is a leader in bar code systems and has invested heavily in RFID last year by acquiring RFID tag and reader maker Matrix for $230mn who were sued by Intermec a few weeks before.

RFIDs are one of the disputed patents in the Intermec Vs Symbol clash. Intermec appears to be on a sound footing as its claims against Symbol are based partly on a group of patents that it had bought from IBM some time back.

Market-watchers are keenly monitoring the litigation and speculating about who would win to eventually get a huge piece of the royalties pie.


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