The past two years have seen a dip in US litigation filed by Intellectual Ventures LLC (IV), which started only one new American campaign in 2017 and none the year before. However, available court records indicate that an offshoot of one of the NPE’s oldest remaining US campaigns—started in 2011 and targeting a host of wireless carriers—also remains active in Germany. Filed documents indicate that appeal hearings were held as recently as January 24 in cases against European carriers Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, and Vodafone. The related US campaign is one of just two in which IV filed new litigation in 2017, during which time the NPE accelerated the pace of divestitures from its massive portfolio.
In March of this year, Intellectual Ventures LLC (IV) launched its first litigation campaign since 2015, asserting up to five automotive component patents before the International Trade Commission (ITC) (as well as in companion suits filed in the District of Delaware) against automakers BMW, Honda, and Toyota and auto parts manufacturers Aisin Seiko, DENSO, Mitsuba, and Nidec. By August, the fledgling campaign had fallen apart, with Administrative Law Judge Dee Lord granting a respondent motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. ALJ Lord ruled that a 2012 assignment of the patents-in-suit from Encap Technologies to an IV affiliate conveyed no rights because Encap Technologies had merged out of existence four years earlier, into Encap Holdings. All of the March actions have been dismissed, IV has now recorded new assignments of the patents asserted, and its subsidiary Intellectual Ventures II LLC (IV II) has filed new complaints with the ITC (337-TA-1073), in the Central District of California (against Honda in 2:17-cv-07681 and against Toyota in 2:17-cv-07680), and in the District of New Jersey (against BMW in 2:17-cv-08870), asserting up to the same five patents against the same seven companies.
Intellectual Ventures II LLC (IV II) has initiated a new automotive campaign, filing seven new lawsuits asserting up to five patents (7,067,944; 7,067,952; 7,154,200; 7,683,509; 7,928,348) generally related to various aspects of electric motors. The NPE has accused both Honda (1:17-cv-00294) and Toyota (1:17-cv-00300) of infringing all five patents through various components of their automobiles (e.g. water pumps, steering units), and it has accused BMW (1:17-cv-00296) of infringing the ‘944 and ‘200 patents through the manufacture of its turbo actuator. Aisin Seiko (1:17-cv-00295) is accused of infringement through the manufacture and sale of certain water pumps for either Honda or Toyota, and DENSO (1:17-cv-00297), Mitsuba (1:17-cv-00298), and Nidec (1:17-cv-00299) are each accused of infringing the ‘952 patent, DENSO for power steering units supplied to Toyota, Nidec for steering gear made for Honda, and Mitsuba for power steering units for Honda.