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.
Deshodax LLC has added three more defendants to the Delaware leg of its litigation campaign over a single patent (7,307,398), generally related to changing the operation of a “motor system” based on inputs received in an image processor. Earlier complaints in the campaign target the autofocus features in cameras built into smartphone cameras, but these new complaints take aim at the vibrate mode in BlackBerry’s DTE K50 (1:17-cv-01014), Samsung’s Galaxy S7 (1:17-cv-01015), and Sony’s Xperia M5 (1:17-cv-01016) smartphones. Deshodax began this campaign, as had nearly every litigating affiliate of patent monetization firm IP Edge LLC, in the Eastern District of Texas, but shifted to Delaware after the US Supreme Court’s May 22 TC Heartland decision on patent venue.
Another of IP Edge LLC’s litigation campaigns has stretched beyond the Eastern District of Texas. Deshodax LLC has moved for voluntary dismissal of its case against Lenovo (5:17-cv-00081) in that district, at roughly the same time that it has filed a new complaint against the same defendant (1:17-cv-00804) in Delaware, the state of incorporation of the named party, Lenovo (United States), Inc. Both Deshodax complaints assert a single patent (7,307,398) generally related to changing the operation of a “motor system” based on inputs received in an image processor. The accused products are the autofocus features in cameras built into the defendants’ smartphones. IP Edge, long a plaintiff fixture in Texas, has been forced by the US Supreme Court’s TC Heartland decision, to litigate in more varied climates over the past six weeks.