Wi-Lan sues Apple, HP, others on Bluetooth patent

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wi-Lan Inc, the Canadian technology licensing company, has filed a lawsuit accusing 19 computer and phone companies of infringing a patent by selling laptops and cellular handsets enabled with Bluetooth technology.

Among the defendants are some of the world’s best-known technology providers, including Apple Inc, Dell Inc, Hewlett-Packard Co and Intel Corp.

Bluetooth is a wireless technology that uses radio waves to transmit digital voices and data over short distances from such devices as laptop computers, cellular phones and cameras. It permits such activities as hands-free phone calling and photo downloading.

In a complaint filed on Wednesday in a Marshall, Texas, federal court, Wi-Lan said the 19 companies are deliberately infringing its 1996 patent, “method for frequency sharing and frequency punchout in frequency hopping communications network,” by selling Bluetooth-enabled products.

The Ottawa-based company seeks unspecified compensatory damages, plus triple damages for “willful” infringement.

An Intel spokesman declined to comment, saying the Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker had yet to review the complaint. A spokeswoman for Palo Alto, California-based Hewlett-Packard declined to comment. Representatives of Apple and Dell did not return requests for comment.

Wi-Lan has filed other patent lawsuits against many of the same defendants in the same court.

Shares of Wi-Lan were up 2 cents at C$2.85 in afternoon trading in Toronto.

The case is Wi-Lan Inc v. Acer Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas, No. 10-00124.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Additional reporting by Sinead Carew, editing by Dave Zimmerman, Bernard Orr