Symbol Strikes Over RFID Patents

By Clint Boulton

April 29, 2005

The IP saga continues in court, with Intermec on the defensive this time.

Symbol Technologies has returned legal fire against Intermec Technologies, filing another round of patent infringement suits concerning wireless scanning technologies.

Symbol is also seeking an injunction barring rival Intermec from using its software, as well as monetary damages for prior use of its technology.

In the latest sparring match between the two wireless purveyors, Symbol alleged that Intermec copied intellectual property concerning wireless bar code scanning or radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies.

RFID is a technology similar to bar code identification, where the electromagnetic or electrostatic coupling in the RF portion of the electromagnetic spectrum is used to transmit signals.

Symbol said Intermec has borrowed from its patents covering laser, imaging and Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technology. Bar code scanning devices, such as mobile computing terminals and handheld scanners, are covered in the patents as well, said Symbol in a statement.

"We tried vigorously to work with Intermec to reach a mutually agreeable cross-licensing arrangement regarding several IP issues, including RFID, that would afford maximum value to each company's shareholders," said Symbol President and CEO Bill Nuti.

"However, Intermec was unwilling to even consider a fair and reasonable licensing arrangement, necessitating resolving differences relating to IP in the courtroom."

Nuti went on to urge Intermec and the industry to consider a royalty-free air interface standard to help RFID flourish.

Symbol filed suit against Intermec with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.

The latest suit from Symbol comes roughly a month after Intermec sued Symbol for infringing on patents for a wireless data-capture system, portable data-processing devices and handheld data-capture devices with graphical user interfaces (GUI).

Two weeks before that salvo, Symbol filed a patent-infringement countersuit against Intermec. Symbol claimed that Intermec infringed on Symbol's patents relating to the Wi-Fi standard.

The roots of the grudge match extend back to June when Intermec sued Matrics right before Symbol purchased it. Symbol tried to reach a cross-licensing agreement with Intermec, and when that didn't happen, Symbol triggered its countersuit against Intermec on March 11.

At that time, Symbol canceled its scan-engine supplier agreement with Intermec because Symbol believes it is inappropriate to continue a supplier arrangement with a company that is suing Symbol.



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