Power Over Ethernet Patent Fight

by Adam Philipp on September 26, 2011

Network-1 brings suit
To enforce its patent on:
Ethernet power

Network-1 Security Solutions has brought a patent infringement suit against 16 data networking equipment companies including Dell, HP, Motorola, Samsung, and Sony, seeking monetary damages based upon reasonable royalties.

The suit, filed in the plaintiff-friendly Eastern District of Texas where Network-1 has won earlier victories, involves the company’s Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology.

PoE allows both data and electricity to be delivered over a single Ethernet cable, which saves money and reduces cable clutter.

In 2003, the IEEE (an international standards organization) created the 802.3af PoE Standard, which references one of Network-1’s patents: US Patent No. 6,218,930 (the “Remote Power Patent”), for a method to detect the amount of electricity needed to power specific devices in an Ethernet network.

This same patent, entitled “Apparatus and Method for Remotely Powering Access Equipment Over a 10/100 Switched Ethernet Network,” is at issue in this latest suit.

PoE technology is widely used, and Network-1 has successfully enforced its patent rights in the past. In July, 2010, it settled a case against 3Com, Cisco, and Extreme Networks that yielded $32 million up-front and a likely licensing revenue stream of $80 million until the patent expires in 2020.

PoE technology is used to power devices like wireless switches and access points, VOIP telephones, and network cameras. About 11 companies have licensed the Network-1 ‘930 patent, but hundreds more use PoE technology.

Network-1 Chairman and CEO Corey M. Horowitz made the following statement in a company press release:

We have made repeated efforts, at considerable expense, to license the Remote Power Patent on reasonable terms to companies manufacturing and selling Power over Ethernet technology…. We hope that the remainder of the industry will license our patented technology rather than devote substantial resources to continued litigation.

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