Some may call them legitimate patent enforcers protecting an inventor’s rights under US patent law, others call them patent trolls. I write this column to draw your attention to disturbing patent enforcement activity that may unsuspecting come haunt you and your firm.

I have been very disturbed by recent e-mails I have gotten from peers across the country. Some are getting informed that their clients who use Ethernet technology are getting sued by the new entity that holds the 3Com patents for Ethernet. One such peer writes, “One of my clients has been pulled into this. Basically the assertion is that every non 3-Com Ethernet device is illegal due to patent infringement. They are not only going after manufacturers, but also end users as well.“
It seems some of the largest Ethernet vendors in the industry are girding for a fight with this outfit. In the meantime, end-user companies such as yours are getting caught up in the fight.
Here are a couple of links. This first one is pleasant sounding enough because it comes from U.S. Ethernet Innovations, LLC (“USEI”), the owner of the fundamental Ethernet technology developed by 3Com Corporation in the 1990s. The underlying message is ominous.

Here is a good slide deck from law firm Dorsey and Whitney who is fighting this sort of patent infringement case:

So I have now made you aware of a possible lawsuit against your firm, so now what do you do? I don’t have any specific recommendations at this time. I personally plan to keep tabs on this situation and see how it proceeds.