August 28, 2012 - The New York Times is at the forefront of a group of various types of companies that are fighting the same patent infringement claim. The Times is just one of many companies sued by Helferich Patent Licensing (HPL) for allegedly infringing a patent on sending text messages with Web links to mobile phones.
HPL has filed 23 such suits in all, and the company says that around 100 companies have settled the lawsuit by paying a one-time fee of $750,000. Some of HPL's licensees include Apple Inc., McDonald's Corp. and The Walt Disney Co.
The Times and the other companies that have decided to fight the lawsuit are taking a gamble that, should they lose the lawsuit, could cost them much more than the $750,000 it would take to settle. But the Times and its codefendants - which include CBS, the Bravo channel, and JC Penney, among others - are fighting the case both in court and in the Patent Office.
The companies filed complaints with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, claiming that the patents should not have been issued - for one reason, because Intel received a similar patent 18 months before HPL's patent issued. Some of the complaints have been decided in the Times' favor, although HPL is appealing those decisions and the entire process could take as much as 18 months to complete.
And in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, the Times is arguing that HPL receives licensing fees from cellphone manufacturers for the same patented service, so suing the companies that initiate the texts constitutes "double dipping."
The lawsuits against the Times and its fellow defendants were filed separately, but the companies are pooling resources and sharing strategies in order to save money.
HPL's lawsuit against the Times is scheduled to last through at least the middle of 2013.