Milwaukee Tools, Li-Ion, and Some Heavy-Duty-Lookin' Lawsuits
Dave Frane over at Tools of the Trade has done some very interesting sleuthing regarding a few patent lawsuits recently filed by Milwaukee Tools. When I first saw his headline, "Milwaukee Claims Exclusive Right to Make Lithium-Ion Tools," I thought it was one of HomeFixated's April Fool's posts. But no, it appears to be legit.
Definitely head over to ToTT to read the whole thing. Dave did a really nice job with it. The article is here.
I don't really know what to make of it all since my legal expertise is confined to a few traffic tickets. But what strikes me as strange is that the patents seem to date back to 2002. If the fact of anyone else simply making a li-ion tool breached that patent, wouldn't they have done something about it long before now? Also, as Dave points out, the companies that Milwaukee is going after seem to be a very selective list, excluding all of the mega-players (DeWalt/B&D, Bosch, Makita). If anyone has any thoughts or insights, drop a comment.
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Posted by Doug Mahoney at November 4, 2014 9:51 PM
Most large companies have enough patents granted to them that no one else could actually make a product. To get around nobody being able to produce and sell anything, the large companies tend to cross-license their patent portfolios to each other so that they can continue doing business. However, if a smaller company comes in with a single great new idea, but without a big set of their own patents, they'll use their patents to prevent them from entering the market. I don't know anything else about this than what you've written, and my own prior experiences developing products, but this sounds like that situation to me. They probably have agreements with the other large companies, and not the smaller ones. If any of the smaller companies can demonstrate they have patents that would prevent Milwaukee from selling their products, they'll do an agreement, too. If not, they'll squeeze them for a big licensing fee, or prevent them from competing.