The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) saw activity in August 2018 involving a variety of frequent litigants. This included petitions for inter partes review (IPR) filed against two NPEs controlled by Fortress Investment Group LLC, INVT SPE LLC and Uniloc 2017 LLC, the latter of which has in recent months cofiled a barrage of lawsuits with subsidiaries of Australian NPE Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited (Uniloc). The PTAB also instituted trial in August for IPRs against Uniloc 2017 and some of its campaign coplaintiffs, and in an IPR against an NPE controlled by patent attorney Brian Yates, whose US litigation has waned as he pursues a new patent licensing initiative through his company iPEL, Inc. Finally, the PTAB issued final decisions in August for IPRs against Uniloc, Empire IP LLC, and Quarterhill Inc.
In July 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) saw the first new petition for inter partes review (IPR) filed against a Native American tribe since the Board’s March ruling that IPRs against tribes are not barred by sovereign immunity, a decision that was upheld by the Federal Circuit on July 20. Institution decisions were also issued by the Board in July for IPRs against Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited and Sound View Innovations, LLC, among other notable plaintiffs. In addition, the PTAB issued final decisions throughout July for IPRs against a variety of other NPEs, from Intellectual Ventures LLC (which has continued to pursue its existing campaigns but has seemingly stopped filing new US litigation) to smaller entities like Andrea Electronics Corporation and XPRT Ventures LLC as well as individual inventor Daniel L. Flamm.
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.
Uniloc Luxembourg S.A. and Uniloc USA, Inc. (collectively, Uniloc) have ramped up litigation in 2017, already filing a dozen new campaigns, and unlike in years past, most of the 2017 cases filed have been over patents developed elsewhere and later acquired by Uniloc. In May 2017, Uniloc acquired five patents generally related to the interaction of mobile devices and their users’ motion and originally developed at Fullpower Technologies; it has since initiated three campaigns asserting one or more of those patents, this past week adding cases against Huawei to two of those campaigns. Multiple additional 2017 campaigns of Uniloc assert patents acquired from HP Enterprise, and this past week, the NPE began yet another new campaign, this one asserting a patent, broadly concerned with display of data through a web browser, apparently acquired from IBM against Oracle subsidiary NetSuite.
So far in 2017, Uniloc Luxembourg S.A. and Uniloc USA, Inc. (collectively, Uniloc) have initiated ten litigation campaigns, all of them against Apple, six asserting patents received from HP Enterprise (HPE), three asserting patents originally developed by Fullpower Technologies, and one asserting Uniloc’s own patent. In August and September, Uniloc added cases against Samsung to four of those campaigns, and it has now added cases against LG Electronics (LGE) to seven of them. All of the cases brought so far this month have been filed in the Northern District of Texas.
Uniloc Luxembourg S.A. and Uniloc USA, Inc. (collectively, Uniloc) have filed ten separate suits against Apple in 2017, adding a second case, against Samsung, in early August to one of those new campaigns. Within two weeks, Uniloc dropped that Samsung suit, without prejudice, but the NPE has now filed three more cases against Samsung, again adding the tech giant to campaigns begun earlier in the year against Apple. The first suit (2:17-cv-00650) asserts three patents broadly related to a device for monitoring human activity; the second (2:17-cv-00651), a single patent generally related to a device for counting its user’s steps; and the third (2:17-cv-00652), a single patent generally related to waking up a device based on its motion. Uniloc received all five patents, which were developed at Fullpower Technologies, in a May 2017 assignment. Various mobile devices made and sold by Samsung with the capacity to sense motion are the accused products.
Uniloc Luxembourg S.A. and Uniloc USA, Inc. (collectively, Uniloc) have closed June as they began the month: suing Apple. Roughly four weeks ago, Uniloc asserted two (7,690,556; 8,872,646) of five patents, received in a single May 2017 assignment, in separate lawsuits against the company, and now, on the last day of June, the NPE has asserted the other three (7,653,508; 7,881,902; 8,712,723) in one suit (2:17-cv-00522) targeting Apple’s iPhones, iPads, and Watches “capable of counting steps or other periodic human motions”. The more recently asserted patents form a family of three generally related to a device for monitoring human activity. Uniloc has now filed seven cases against Apple in 2017 alone.