Or on second thought, maybe getting Judge Judy involved isn't such a good idea. Judge Judy typically dispatches her cases in minutes, but the legal tussles between Symbol Technologies and Intermec Technologies, each of which has filed a patent infringement suit against the other, could keep the courts tied up for years.
On March 24, Intermec filed suit against Symbol, charging the Holtsville, N.Y.-based company with infringement of six Intermec patents related to key Intermec wireless access, terminal and software technologies. "Symbol's unauthorized use of Intermec's patents is a clear violation of patent law and involves a substantial part of Symbol's automated data capture product line," says Intermec President Tom Miller.
The move is the latest in a series of legal actions dating back to June 2004 when Intermec filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Matrics. Matrics, a developer of RFID tags and systems, has since been acquired by Symbol.
In early March, Symbol filed a counter patent infringement suit against Intermec, claiming that Intermec had infringed on Symbol's patents covering its wireless communications technology. At the same time, Symbol stopped supplying its bar-code laser scan engines to Intermec. Intermec, which owns a vast amount of RFID-related intellectual property, maintains that Symbol had no legal right to terminate its supply agreement.
Ironically, the initial contract between the two companies contains an agreement that they will not sue each other. However, Miller says that Symbol's actions free his company to "defend ourselves against Symbol's claims and to prosecute our own patent infringement claims against Symbol."
Whatever the legal battle's outcome, analysts warn that both companies stand to lose if they let the litigation distract them from the race to dominate the growing RFID market. "These are two companies that are quickly migrating to include RFID in their organizations, and are facing some stiff challenges from other companies," says one industry analyst. "The question is whether they can resolve these internal disputes quickly and move on with their … business."