The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) remained at the center of a heated public debate over the issue of tribal sovereign immunity in December 2017. Motions to dismiss filed by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe in IPRs against several Allergan patents—acquired by the tribe and licensed back to their original owner to shield them through sovereign immunity—remain pending as the PTAB considers a wave of amicus briefs filed on both sides of the issue. The Board has since denied the tribe’s motion for an oral hearing on discovery related to alleged bias held by the USPTO and its leadership, and that bias’s effect on the selection of judges for the tribe’s case. Meanwhile, among the petitions for inter partes review (IPR) filed in December was one brought by Apple against MEC Resources, LLC, an entity owned by another Native American tribe, which took over an existing lawsuit asserting the challenged patent against Apple in the fall. Also in December, the Board issued institution decisions in petitions against Iridescent Networks, Inc.; Lone Star Silicon Innovations LLC; and publicly traded Quarterhill Inc.; while an IPR against Packet Intelligence LLC ended in an adverse judgment after petitioner Sandvine prevailed in a November trial.
Etron (5:17-cv-06547) is the second defendant to be added to a semiconductor campaign begun last month by Polaris Innovations Limited. The NPE (a subsidiary of Wi-LAN Inc., itself controlled by Quarterhill Inc.), filed its first case last month, suing Integrated Silicon Solution (3:17-cv-05846) for alleged infringement of two former Infineon patents. Those same two patents are at issue in the Etron suit, as well as two additional patents originating with Qimonda (a spinoff of Infineon); Etron is accused of infringement through various computer memory products, including the DDR3 SDRAM.