Everyone knows what’s happening with the Verizon vs Vonage situation. Verizon are shamelessly using old patents that are extremely wide ranging and arguably obsolite at this point in time to cripple the competition.
This is so common and you never have to wait long for the next greedy company or individual to try to get some money or take out their rivals, depending on the situation.
I have heard so many of these cases so it’s hard to think of any to think of many, but the ones that come to the top of my head include the people who sued Microsoft, `Sony and nintendo over rumble and another company that makes remote controls that sued nintendo for the wii remote despite the company not making remotes for gaming. The only sued them over the motion sensing which is for a totally different purpose and is I’m sure not unique anyway.
Away from gaming I know Microsoft and Apple among other major manufacturers of computers and other tech products have been targetted almost constantly by patent squatters.
So in conclusion, the whole system has to be updated to make it all work fairer now that things have changed so much. Trademark law work well for the most part in that they force the trademark holding company to enforce it and take steps to protect it and stop others from using it, and also show that you are using it. An example would be where cisco were criticised for simply putting an iPhone sticker on their VOIP phones (which incidently could probably be banned if Verizon get their way). But the squabble they had with Apple is history now and the companies are working together on iPhone interoperability.
Back to the patents, I think if people are no longer allowed to sit on patents then this kind of thing won’t be able to continue happening, and companies with great products won’t have to worry about people coming along trying to rain on their parades.