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Patent Troll Brandywine Takes Aim at DSL
39 ISPs Sued and Counting...
by Karl Bode 12:32PM Wednesday Jan 02 2013
A prodigious patent troll is now taking aim at ISPs large and small, hoping to extract cash from ISPs for simply using DSL gear. According to numerous court filings, a company by the name of Brandywine Communications Technologies is on a suing spree, claiming that numerous ISPs have violated seven different DSL-related patent Brandywine claims to own.

The patents involved covering numerous broad DSL-related concepts ranging from "detecting loss of echo cancellation" (U.S. patent number 5,206,854) to "predistortion technique for communications systems" (U.S. patent number 5,251,328). The former of those two patents has had nine different homes in recent years, according to information from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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The company only recently sued more than 39 different ISPs and network operators. Roughly around a year ago the company sued AT&T, Verizon and Centurylink, and is currently in the process of settling with Earthlink. They've since sued dozen of additional ISPs including Windstream, IKANO, Megapath (formerly Covad) and many more.

The lawsuits are curious given that while Brandywine is suing ISPs, they're not suing any of the hardware vendors that made the offending network gear. That's not entirely unlike if Apple decided to start suing Samsung users or retailers for violating Apple patents. The allegedly patent-violating gear in question is made by a variety of hardware vendors, including Alcatel-Lucent, Adtran, Huawei, Calix, ZTE, Pace and Motorola.

While Brandywine appears afraid to sue the device makers, they did sue numerous hardware vendors last year. The company sued Apple for violating two very vague patents (6,236,717 and 5,719,922) covering the implementation of mobile voicemail on the iPhone and iPad.

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Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2

1 recommendation

Default post

Insert default "We really need copyright/patent reform" post.

I am not making fun of such a comment, as I completely agree with the idea. But story after story, what more can be said about this kind of crap?
--
Intel i7-2600k /ASRock P67 Extreme4 /4x 4Gb G.Skill /2x Intel 510 series 250Gb SSD /3x WD20EADS 2TB /2x PNY GTX 260 /Silverstone 850W /Custom water cooler /Antec Twelve-Hundred

cmatties
Only the strong will survive. HAHA

join:2005-03-04
Green Springs, OH
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

1 recommendation

Re: Default post

exactly, there are way to many lawsuits like these. people are afraid to make there money the hard way. so why not start suing. easy money.
--
»www.speedtest.net/result/336325078.png
»www.speedtest.net/result/1631437405.png
Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1

1 recommendation

The thing about "sue the users" cases that always worry me, is that all it takes is one big win in court and it can set the ball rolling for far worse things. However lets say an idiot judge does give Brandywine a win. I doubt Apple would sue Samsung device owners as for one thing they have no way to know who has a galaxy phone.
--
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports
WhatNow
Premium
join:2009-05-06
Charlotte, NC
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

1 recommendation

Re: Default post

It would be easy to find out every cell company knows what type of phone makes a connection to every cell tower.

The problem is the Patent Office has not done their office for decades. I think I read in one article they gave a patent for a backyard kids swing. You file the paperwork and then it is for someone else to prove it is invalid.
Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1

1 recommendation

Re: Default post

True but they would have to get a court order to get VZW to release the consumer data.

not to mention if I got a letter stating I owed apple $3000, I would more than likely contact the police and state there is a scam going around. because random letters for money from companies one has no business relationship with are pretty much always a scam.
--
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports
carljk

join:2002-04-09
Ridgefield, CT
It was much worse than you make it sound. A father was teaching his daughter about the patent process. They picked an idea that was a bit off the wall. So they applied for and received a patent for the action of swinging sideways on a swing.
InvalidError

join:2008-02-03
kudos:5
How companies that buy DSL gear get sued for patents when the manufacturer is the one actually committing the infringement (if any) has always boggled my mind.

If the troll wants to sue for DSL patent infringement, they should be suing Texas Instrument, Alcatel, Broadcom, Huawei, Zyxel, etc. for manufacturing the actual DSLAMs, modems and related chipsets, hardware and software/firmware.

Unless carriers are hacking their DSLAM/modem firmwares to enable features not included in the equipment's stock configuration instead of purchasing the appropriate feature license from the hardware vendor.
johnner1999

join:2008-12-27
Litchfield

sleep much?

who or how did this troll get awakened... I could see if they started suing 15 years ago...

scavio
Premium
join:2001-07-14
Melmac

I don't get it

How are the first two patents listed even valid? They were awarded over 19 years ago and both had application dates of over 21 years ago.

skeechan
Ai Otsukaholic
Premium
join:2012-01-26
AA169|170
kudos:2

How are the ISPs infringing?

They didn't build the hardware. If a component in a Ford is infringing, the car owner isn't liable for infringement, Ford is.
Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1

Re: How are the ISPs infringing?

Simple, the patent troll is hoping to use scare tactics. It was this firm or someone else that was suing coffee shops and supermarkets for operating wifi hotspots over patents related to the technology behind wifi.

They figure the court system is also dumb enough to let this case go to trial.
--
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports

skeechan
Ai Otsukaholic
Premium
join:2012-01-26
AA169|170
kudos:2

Re: How are the ISPs infringing?

Verizon and AT&T aren't easily scared.
Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1

Re: How are the ISPs infringing?

Lets hope they find that out the hard way.

jmn1207
Premium
join:2000-07-19
Ashburn, VA
kudos:1

1 recommendation

said by skeechan:

Verizon and AT&T aren't easily scared.

Verizon and AT&T are probably behind these lawsuits, indirectly.

A few million is worth it if it can be used to drive out the competition from the smaller ISPs that can't easily absorb the financial loss. Any wonder why the lawsuits are not being directed at the device manufacturers but only the ISPs?

It seems that the larger companies have already paid up once before in similar lawsuits, and perhaps this strategy can be used to remove the little guy from establishing themselves in the market. It does not appear the any of the major players want anything to do with DSL anymore. This move just makes it nearly impossible for any new startup companies to take root using this technology, allowing LTE sales to be more dominant in markets with DSL.
Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL

Re: How are the ISPs infringing?

U-Verse uses DSL tech and LTE sucks it get loaded down by lots of users and in big citys all LTE will suck big time.
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH

Re: How are the ISPs infringing?

not all U-Verse uses DSL technology.
PDXPLT

join:2003-12-04
Banks, OR
said by skeechan:

If a component in a Ford is infringing, the car owner isn't liable for infringement, Ford is.

Actually, both Ford and the car owner are infringing. Patent rights control the use of technology, and if a patent owner really wanted to stop a car owner from using an invention, they could. The owners would then need to seek recourse from Ford, which sold them a product that was unusable.

In the case of the ISP/DSL patents here, in cases like this what often happens is that purchase contracts require that a component vendor or equipment vendor will indemnify their customers against any claims of patent infringment, promising to cover any claims made by a patent holder. That's commonplace between component vendors and equipment makers, but I don't know if it is the case between the equipment makers and the ISP's here.
Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1

1 recommendation

How is this lawsuit even legal?

You cannot violate a patent just by owning equipment. I mean of some suits knocked on my door and said I had to pay to run my router's wifi I would tell them to get off my land.(Or would that be get off my LAN?)
funny0

join:2010-12-22

Re: How is this lawsuit even legal?

said by Kearnstd:

You cannot violate a patent just by owning equipment. I mean of some suits knocked on my door and said I had to pay to run my router's wifi I would tell them to get off my land.(Or would that be get off my LAN?)

be smart yankie use yourguns solve the problem....for good
PDXPLT

join:2003-12-04
Banks, OR
said by Kearnstd:

You cannot violate a patent just by owning equipment.

Sure you can. Or use can by using that equipment, if the equipment makes use of a patented invention.

I mean of some suits knocked on my door and said I had to pay to run my router's wifi I would tell them to get off my land.(Or would that be get off my LAN?)

OK, but they could still sue you fo infringement. I wouldn't worry, though, the value of any damages they could collect is far less than what it would cost to file the lawsuit.
gregandrene

join:2005-01-23
Marion, VA

Re: How is this lawsuit even legal?

They also get awarded attorney fees, which means YOU pay THEIR lawyers if you lose.

Bugger

@comcast.net

Ridiculous

It is time to institute engineering prerequisites in law school and get judges to throw this garbage out of the court room.

Don't the ISPs usually get indemnity contracts when they buy equipment?

CorvusSenex

@wwcentral.com

Re: Ridiculous

Lawyers working in patent usually are required to have science/engineering backgrounds. The people driving these lawsuits are engineers -- so maybe it's some basic law and ethics that need to be introduced at engineering schools instead.
funny0

join:2010-12-22

Re: Ridiculous

said by CorvusSenex :

Lawyers working in patent usually are required to have science/engineering backgrounds. The people driving these lawsuits are engineers -- so maybe it's some basic law and ethics that need to be introduced at engineering schools instead.

and nothing will ever get made agian in a life time caus eit will take you 50 year sto get it all synced up...

Bill Neilson
Premium
join:2009-07-08
Arlington, VA

Sadly, most here don't know how much money

it can take to defend such suits even when they are virtually baseless.

For companies that really are on a shoe-string budget, they just can not afford to spend the money required to smack down lawsuits in general.

Sad but true....

Bugger

@comcast.net

The Public Good

Maybe it is time to apply the eminent domain/national security laws to IP.

All your patents are belong to us.

elios

join:2005-11-15
Springfield, MO

Re: The Public Good

better yet declare all current patents/copyright public domain and start over with a new system but itll never happen
to much money rolling in to DC to keep the system broken or break it more
JaredDUSA

join:2013-01-02

ISP's named in lawsuits don't even have a single user active

I know for fact that several of the lawsuits mentioned here:

»www.scribd.com/opensearch?langua···tions%22

involve companies that don't even have a single DSL user active.

There are several companies that just look like they offer DSL on their website, yet have no active DSL customers.

It appears to me that Brandywine simply searched the net looking for reputable companies that sell DSL services, however they have no way of knowing your company and no way of knowing if you are violating the patents.
russotto

join:2000-10-05
West Orange, NJ

Re: ISP's named in lawsuits don't even have a single user active

Sounds like the lawyers need a bit of a smackdown. Rule 11 violation, maybe?
steevo22

join:2002-10-17
Fullerton, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·AT&T DSL Service

Just bring them in.

Wouldn't it make sense, if you were a network operator, to just countersue the manufacturer of the equipment you use that is purported to infringe?

Just bring them in.

"We just bought this equipment, the manufacturer engineered it, provided it, supports it, provided all the software, training, etc. If there's a problem take it up with them."
tkdslr

join:2004-04-24
Pompano Beach, FL

Re: Just bring them in.

I believe the appropriate term is Cross Claim.. Filing Counter claims(sue) is used to bind the opposing party to there misdeeds/damages.
Zoder

join:2002-04-16
Miami, FL

Expiration?

Haven't these two patents expired by now? Wikipedia says pre-1995 patents are good for 20 years from the filing date or 17 years from the issue date. It looks like both of those dates have passed.
tkdslr

join:2004-04-24
Pompano Beach, FL
Reviews:
·T-Mobile US

Those patents belong to Bell labs.. (Alcatel -Lucent)

1st item, Seams to me that some of those companies retained some rights, and cross licensing obligations.

This will show up in discovery, and when it does, it's time to file for major sanctions. (or file a cross complaint against the original manufacturer of the DSL equipment.)

When it comes to these trolls, I wonder if their is way to bind the opposing lawyers as a counter party. Seams to me, that legally dubious speculation for profit should make them a co-conspirator and liable to pay for any counterclaims and/or sanctions.

2nd item, unless the ISP actually owns DSL concentrators, located at the other end of the last mile(usually located in Teleco facilities), they are not using any DSL related patents.

3rd item, I don't think aDSL uses the patents in question.. Echo cancellation is only needed when a device shares the same frequencies for both transmit and receive functions. Like an old v.22 to v.42bis modems or fax machines. aDSL uses separate frequencies for xmit and receive.. no real need to echo cancel.

RK6779

@soundspecialists.com

Re: Those patents belong to Bell labs.. (Alcatel -Lucent)

So are these patents and the claims by Brandywine for older and/or outdated DSL modulation?

Anon Name

@cgocable.net

People still use DSL?

I thought access to broadband was pretty much universal now.
funny0

join:2010-12-22

just go live in a cave

thats what these trolls are saying no crossing a bridge for you

tigerpaw509

join:2011-01-19

Really

Better order more Bagels.

manu

@fidalgo.net

this is Bologne

I think this si nonsense and stupid they got nothing better to do than harass people with their nonsense. Simply stupid

Steve Vogel

@sbcglobal.net

US Patent System Broken

One reason why China is moving light years ahead of the USA is they are not much concerned about our archaic concept of patents. In China, you have to prove why your patent is good for the Chinese people or you get nothing. This allows innovators to boldly stand on the shoulders of those who went before them. This would be a good standard to apply here as well. It is time to demand an end to Patent Trolls. This costs American jobs!