The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) saw the number of petitions for AIA review in November hold fairly steady at 111 (compared to October’s 128) as the US Supreme Court continued its review of the constitutionality of inter partes review (IPR) in Oil States v. Greene’s Energy Services, for which oral arguments were held on November 27. Among the NPEs targeted by petitions brought in November were publicly traded Quarterhill Inc. and Xperi Corporation, prolific litigant Brian Yates, and several privately held NPEs waging networking campaigns, including Alacritech, Inc.; Iridescent Networks, Inc.; Monument Patent Holdings, LLC; MyMail Ltd.; and Oyster Optics LLC. The PTAB also instituted trial in November for other IPRs against Alacritech and Quarterhill and for an IPR against Plectrum LLC. Final decisions issued by the Board in November include one in the automotive campaign waged by Paice LLC and in IPRs against InfoGation Corporation and VoIP-Pal.com, Inc., both of which saw their patents survive review.
A new NPE affiliated with California attorney Brian Yates, Network Security Technologies, LLC, has begun a new litigation campaign, filing separate lawsuits against Bradford Networks (1:17-cv-01487), ForeScout Technologies (1:17-cv-01488), McAfee (1:17-cv-01489), and Pulse Secure (1:17-cv-01490). Each complaint asserts two patents from a family of five generally related to protecting a computer network, with the defendants accused of infringement through provision of network security products, including Bradford’s Network Sentry, ForeScout’s CounterACT, Pulse Secure’s Policy Secure, and McAfee’s Network Access Control Solution. The NPE pleads that each defendant allegedly adopted a standard promulgated by the Trusted Network Connect Work Group of the Trusted Computing Group.
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District Judge Rodney Gilstrap has imposed $355K in attorney fees and costs on Iris Connex, LLC, ruling that the Texas-based NPE had pursued such an objectively meritless case against defendant Dell (2:15-cv-01915) that the lawsuit was exceptional under Octane. In a 57-page opinion issued on January 25, Judge Gilstrap also ordered attorney Brian Yates to pay Dell $152K in sanctions, ruling that he had abused the corporate form by controlling the Iris Connex campaign through shell company Q Patents, Inc., failed to disclose that entity as the NPE’s parent, and then acted in bad faith in his further attempts at concealing that relationship. Finally, Judge Gilstrap imposed sanctions on Craig Tadlock, Iris Connex’s counsel, requiring him to pay $25K to the court for advancing a wholly implausible claim construction argument.