Tuesday, October 17, 2006

HAKAN LANS LOST AGAINST DELL AND GATEWAY

I wonder why we haven't read more about Håkan Lans's fight against Dell and Gateway in American media. Here is an excerpt from Peter Zura's post, Håkan Lans Is Back at The Federal Circuit (and Sweden Will Be Watching):

In one of the strangest, and most controversial patent infringement cases in recent history, Håkan Lans (aka Uniboard Aktiebolag) returns to the Federal Circuit on October 6, where the court will determine his fate on the disastrous enforcement effort regarding U.S. Patent No. 4,303,986 (Panel J: Friday, October 6, 2006, 10:00 A.M., Courtroom 203 - 2006-1070 Lans v. Gateway 2000) .

A prolific inventor and a folk hero in his native Sweden, Lans was granted the '986 patent in 1981, which covered Video Graphics Array (VGA) technology. In 1989, Lans agreed to license the ’986 patent to IBM. However, for tax reasons, Lans wanted to have his shell company, Uniboard, grant the license. To assure that Uniboard possessed the rights it was purporting to license, IBM requested that Lans first execute an assignment of the ’986 patent to Uniboard. Lans executed the assignment to Uniboard personally and then, on behalf of Uniboard, executed the license to IBM. Lans soon obtained licenses from others, including Hitachi, HP, and Apple.

In 1996, Lans sent letters to the computer industry accusing numerous companies of infringing the ’986 patent. The letters identify Lans as “the inventor and owner” of the ’986 patent, but did not mention Uniboard.

In 1997, Lans personally sued numerous companies for infringement of the ’986 patent. The complaint did not include Uniboard as a plaintiff. During discovery, the defendants found out about the assignment, and concluded that Lans had no business asserting the patent claim, because he wasn't, in fact, the owner.

And that's when everything started to unravel for Lans. (271patent.blogspot.com, 09/28/06.)