Saint Lawrence Communications LLC (as patent owner), a subsidiary of publicly traded NPE Acacia Research Corporation, and EVS Codec Technologies, LLC (as exclusive licensee) have together filed suit against BBK Electronics (OnePlus Technology (Shenzhen)) and Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile) (2:19-cv-00057). The same five data compression patents that have been at issue throughout the US leg of this campaign are asserted in the new complaint, which targets OnePlus products that contain the EVS codec, including certain smartphones providing OnePlus Ultra HD Voice (or HD Voice+) and any OnePlus products containing certain Qualcomm modems. The NPEs plead that “T-Mobile has promoted the infringing OnePlus EVS Products, including through cited materials indicating that “T-Mobile + OnePlus 6T = Exclusive Soulmates”, and that the defendants have been aware of the patents-in-suit through various channels, including German litigation brought by an Acacia subsidiary against Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone.
Saint Lawrence Communications LLC has filed suit against Amazon (2:19-cv-00027), asserting a familiar set of five data compression patents in a new complaint that targets a long list of devices supporting the Adaptive Multi-Rate-Wideband (AMR-WB) audio codec for speech. The accused products include the Fire Phone, various Fire TV products, various Kindle Android tablets, and various Echo and Alexa products (including those running Amazon’s Android-based Fire OS). Saint Lawrence, a subsidiary of Acacia Research Corporation, pleads ownership of the patents asserted; last August, EVS Codec Technologies, LLC—claiming the exclusive right to grant licenses covering products practicing the Enhanced Voice Standard (EVS) for voice services over LTE/4G networks—asserted the same five patents in suits filed against Huawei, LG Electronics (LGE), and ZTE. The Saint Lawrence Communications complaint acknowledges a “prior settlement and license agreement” with Amazon but further alleges that “Amazon is not currently licensed to the patents asserted in this Complaint with respect to the activities accused of infringement”.
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.
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.