Startup Hipmunk is taking legal action against i2z Technology over a patent dispute.The patent in question, No. 5,345,551, is one that allows for content to be displayed on numerous windows.
Hipmunk is suing the company after i2z initially stated Hipmunk was infringing on its patent and demanded a licensing agreement.
The other company, i2z Technology, is a shell business located in Texas and run by a lawyer based out of California, according to GigaOm.
The company doesn’t appear to provide any service or product but instead gathers patents in order to make money through licensing or litigation—what’s known in the business as a “non-practicing entity,” or, less politely, a “patent troll.”
This request came right after Hipmunk secured $15 million in funding.
The travel startup, which allows users to search for flights and hotels, didn’t take the bait. It says that i2z Technology has tried to pull this stunt with other companies, including Yelp, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and many others.
In its lawsuit, Hipmunk states, “the products and services on its travel search site do not infringe, contribute to the infringement of, or induce others to infringe any valid and enforceable claim of the ‘551 patent, either directly or indirectly, either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents.”
Hipmunk’s lawsuit shouldn’t come as a surprise to people familiar with the startup. One of the advisors, Alexis Ohanian, is an outspoken advocate for internet freedom and in the past has protested against SOPA. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him take on patent reform.
Check out the lawsuit in its entirety: