• On December 8, 2010, Intellectual Ventures, a firm formed by Microsoft’s former CTO that acquires and licenses patents and other intellectual property, filed three separate patent-infringement actions in federal court in Delaware against a series of defendants claiming that they have knowingly infringed Intellectual Ventures’ patents and refused to agree to reasonable licensing terms. As Intellectual Ventures describes itself in the complaints, it has spent hundreds of millions of dollars acquiring individual inventors’ patents from which it has “earned nearly $2 billion by licensing these patents to some of the world’s most innovative and successful technology companies who continue to use them to make computer equipment, software, semiconductor devices, and a host of other products.” Intellectual Ventures brought one suit against Altera, Microsemi Corp. and Lattice Semiconductor, alleging that those defendants have incorporated Intellectual Ventures’ programmable logic devices “in a variety of technologies, including telecommunications, wireless technology, military applications, and networking.” A second suit against Hynix Semiconductor and Elpida Memory alleges that those companies’ memory chips infringe other of Intellectual Ventures’ patents. And a third suit against Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro, and Check Point Software Technologies alleges that their anti-virus and internet security products have infringed Intellectual Ventures’ patents as well. Intellectual Ventures seeks an unspecified amount of damages in each suit. Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Altera Corp., No. 10-cv-01065-UNA, et al. (D. Del.).
  • On November 29, 2010, the Appellate Court of Illinois partially reversed a trial court’s dismissal of a suit brought by various residents of Glen Ellyn, Illinois against the Village of Glen Ellyn and two T-Mobile entities. The residents had challenged the Village’s grant of permission to T-Mobile to install a cellular antenna and related equipment on the Village’s water tower. The appellate court agreed that the Village’s interpretation of its own ambiguous ordinance, which stipulated that the number of antennas on the water tower was to be kept “at a minimum,” was entitled to deference. The court also dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims regarding RF radiation, finding them to be preempted under the Telecommunications Act. But the appellate court reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claim challenging the Village’s decision to allow T-Mobile to place an antenna that would exceed the Village’s own height restrictions, and install high voltage electrical boxes in a fashion not contemplated by the relevant ordinance. The case was remanded to the trial court to resolve those issues. Ruisard v. Village of Glen Ellyn, No. 2-09-1083.