Recently formed Texas NPE EVS Codec Technologies, LLC has kept a portfolio of wideband audio patents in litigation, filing suit against Huawei (2:18-cv-00346), LG Electronics (LGE) (2:18-cv-00343), and ZTE (2:18-cv-00344) on nearly the same day that saw the last case in a prior campaign closed. The defendants are accused of infringement through the provision of mobile devices supporting the Enhanced Voice Services (EVS) codec via Ultra HD Voice compatibility. LGE and ZTE were both defendants in the prior campaign as to devices supporting a predecessor of Ultra HD Voice/EVS (the AMR-WB, or HD Voice, codec) waged by Saint Lawrence Communications LLC, a subsidiary of publicly traded NPE Acacia Research Corporation. Acacia recently announced a significant shakeup in both its executive team and board of directors.
Publicly traded NPEs Acacia Research Corporation and Finjan Holdings, Inc. have each provided updates on litigation filed in Germany as part of their third-quarter earnings announcements. The German infringement suit brought by Acacia’s Saint Lawrence Communications GmbH against Apple proceeds in parallel with invalidity actions brought by Apple and Motorola Mobility, while in the US Apple has pursued its own litigation against Acacia, asserting various claims related to the NPE’s allegedly unfair and anticompetitive licensing practices in that campaign. Meanwhile, a neutral expert has been appointed in Finjan’s German lawsuit against ESET as trial comes to a close in its US litigation against Blue Coat Systems, with invalidity actions also pending for that campaign in Germany and the US.
European NPE litigation has begun to see a shift toward the UK for litigation of standard essential patents (SEPs) and fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing disputes in the wake of the UK High Court of Justice’s decision in Unwired Planet v. Huawei. Meanwhile, NPEs litigating in Germany have seen mixed success in their pursuit of injunctive relief, against frequent defendants, in recent weeks, with multiple German NPE suits also ending in settlement in campaigns waged by publicly traded American NPEs.
Following a first quarter that saw a decline in year-over-year revenue of 64 percent, Acacia Research Corporation released its Q2 2017 earnings on July 27, revealing yet another dramatic drop in revenue, along with layoffs.
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) saw a decline in petitions for AIA review filed against NPES in April 2017. While the total number of April petitions, 120, was somewhat less than the three-year monthly average of 150, NPEs were hit by 20 petitions in April, a 68.8 percent decline from 64 the previous month. The dip in April PTAB filings comes in the midst of an overall increase in PTAB petitions over the previous year, with the total number of petitions filed so far in fiscal year 2017 nearing 1,200 as of the date of this report (compared to just over 930 petitions during the same period last year). Prolific private litigants remain a regular target for PTAB petitions, with petitions filed in April against IP Edge LLC and Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited, while Acacia Research Corporation was the only publicly traded NPE named in petitions brought during that month.
Acacia Research Corporation has announced a 22 percent revenue increase for fiscal year 2016 and a dip in revenue for Q4, disclosing losses for both the quarter and the year that were significantly smaller than those in 2015. Meanwhile, VirnetX Holding Corporation reported stagnant revenue for 2016 along with a loss of its own, as it continues to experience setbacks in its sole litigation campaign due to post-trial rulings and the invalidation of multiple asserted patents.