Good news for iBiquity et al.: a simmering fight with patent trolls seeking recompense from hundreds of broadcasters and auto manufacturers over their implementation of HD Radio has been quashed.
The trolls folded first. On April 23, Delaware Radio Technologies and Wyncomm LLC notified the Federal District Court in Delaware that they wanted to terminate their lawsuits “with prejudice,” meaning they cannot be refiled. iBiquity, who countersued the trolls last year, moved for dismissal of its case on May 6.
The prevailing wisdom is that iBiquity’s countersuit sealed the deal: it was telling that DRT/Wyncomm, the holders of the patents in question, did not sue iBiquity directly, electing instead to go after the users of the technology. That’s red-flag patent troll behavior.
To its credit (and due to the contractual obligations of its own licensing scheme), iBiquity stepped up to the plate and vanquished the troll. Given the incredibly vague nature of the patents in question, it would not have been difficult for iBiquity to advance an argument that could have effectively invalidated the patents themselves, and thus ended DRT/Wyncomm’s lucre-hunt once and for all. Instead, both sides retreat from battle to lick their wounds, which in this case involves court costs and attorney’s fees.
However, federal law stipulates that the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office must be notified of legal activity on patents, and DRT/Wyncomm’s capitulation in these cases was formally entered into the record on April 29. One can only hope that it might weaken subsequent claims the trolls try to make. And considering the malaise that surrounds the HD Radio system more generally, putting this problem to bed allows the industry’s limited attention and resources to be utilized on things that might actually make for meaningful change.