March 22, 2008 in Business

Itron accused of infringing wireless patent

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A Georgia company has filed a lawsuit against Itron Inc., accusing the Spokane company of infringing on a wireless technology patent.

The lawsuit was filed by IP Co. LLC, which has an office in Atlanta. The suit names Itron, Centerpoint Energy and Eaton Corp. as three co-defendants.

Itron provides meters and metering technology and services for energy and water utilities.

Centerpoint Energy is a Houston-based gas and electricity utility serving customers in six states, and is one of Itron’s large customers. Many utilities now use wireless devices to send and gather customer information and other data.

Cleveland-based Eaton Corp. provides an assortment of technology products for utilities and for a wide range of other customers.

John Herman, a lawyer representing IP Co., said the company will show that the alleged infringement occurred widely and entitles his client to damages to be determined at trial.

The patent cited was issued in 2006 and is described as a wireless networking system that optimizes data sent across a general area. The inventors were listed at the U.S. Patent Office as Edwin Brownrigg and Thomas Wilson. The patent was assigned to IP Co. sometime between the filing of the patent in 2003 and 2006.

Deloris Duquette, vice president for corporate communications at Itron, said the technology used by Itron does not infringe on the IP Co. patent.

Herman said he’s represented IP Co. in several other patent suits. Some of those are still pending in Georgia courts, he said. At least one other IP Co. suit filed in federal courts has been dismissed, according to court documents.

IP Co. provides wireless solutions and other technology consulting services, Herman said. “This is not a patent trolling company,” he said. Patent trolls are companies that acquire patent rights and then file suits against other companies, alleging infringement.

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