Cisco responded briefly to point out that the suit seems to address technology that is based on more than just Cisco productswhich is essentially the point Wi-LAN wants to make anyway. "Wi-LAN claims that its patents are related to industry standards and appears to be applying the patents to the Wi-Fi industry as a whole," said Linda Horiuchi, a spokeswoman for Cisco in San Jose, Calif. "We will respond as appropriate after reviewing the claims.""Canada is home-court advantage," El-Hamamsy said. "The Canadian rules tend to be bent a bit more toward the plaintiffs, whereas in the U.S. its more toward the defendants. ... In general, [Canada is] a friendlier environment for a small company like us." One analyst compared Wi-LANs suit with NTP Inc.s patent infringement case against Canadian BlackBerry e-mail device manufacturer Research in Motion Ltd. Last August, a federal court ruled in favor of NTP, issuing an injunction enjoining RIM from selling, using or importing its BlackBerry handhelds and server software in the United States. The court stayed that injunction pending an appeal period; RIM is still appealing the decision. "Maybe this is Canada getting back at the U.S., since NTP in the U.S. is going after RIM in Canada," said Ken Dulaney, vice president of mobile computing at Gartner Inc. in San Jose, Calif. "Its the same kind of deal: trying to make a buck off the legal system when you cannot make a buck yourself. The only way we will know if this has merit is to go through the courts. They might as well start off with Cisco since they have the lawyer power." Click here to read about a patent suit that goes after many of the largest U.S. cable and satellite companies. El-Hamamsy said his case and NTPs arent comparable because Wi-LAN actively pursues product development more than NTP does. Wi-LAN was one of the companies that lobbied the FCC to allow OFDM in the 2.4GHz band, where 802.11g runs. "We have not just taken the technology and sat on it," El-Hamamsy said. "We licensed it to Philips; we developed our own systems; we founded the OFDM forum; we participated actively." Wi-LAN has had litigious success in the past. In May, the company settledout of courta two-year-old suit against the Canadian wireless hardware manufacturer Redline Communications Inc. Redline never admitted wrongdoing but did agree to pay royalties on future OFDM products. El-Hamamsy said he considered it a successful test run in preparation to go after a company such as Cisco. "At the time we initiated the Redline case, Wi-LAN wasnt in the same financial position as we are today," he said. "We knew going into the lawsuit would test the patent. We got the benefit of knowing what the defense looks like." Check out eWEEK.coms Mobile & Wireless Center at http://wireless.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis.
El-Hamamsy said his company might eventually sue Cisco in the United States because the Canadian OFDM patent is similar to the U.S. one. Canada, he said, is sort of a test run.