The filing spree of Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited continues unabated after handing over the reins of its monetization efforts to Fortress Investment Group LLC earlier this year. Last week alone, plaintiffs related to these entities jointly filed a new suit against Apple in the Western District of Texas, one against Cisco, two against Hike, and four against Alphabet (Google), all in the Eastern District of Texas. Since its acquisition of a large portfolio from Pendrell Corporation subsidiary Pendragon Wireless LLC this past January, Uniloc has been filing new lawsuits on nearly a weekly basis over those patents, on its own, before its transfer of over 600 US patent assets to Fortress in May, and together with Fortress since. That shift in patent ownership came as Fortress announced a new, $400M IP fund focused on patent assertion.
Fortress Investment Group LLC and Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited have added two additional patents to one of their existing litigation campaigns with new suits against AT&T (AT&T Mobility) (2:18-cv-00379) and Verizon (Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless) (2:18-cv-00380). The plaintiffs accuse AT&T of infringing a patent generally related to system control using a “wireless terminal” through the provision of the Smart Home Manager mobile app, as used to change settings for a home Wi-Fi network; Verizon, of infringing a patent broadly related to the delivery of data through “beacon devices” through the use of Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) beacons in its retail stores, as used to send notifications to mobile devices running the Verizon app. The two complaints each assert additional patents already in suit in the campaign, all of them part of a large, January 2018 acquisition from Pendrell Corporation, with ownership moving to Fortress subsidiary Uniloc 2017 LLC this past May.
Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited, through controlled subsidiaries and at least in some instances with the apparent backing of Fortress Investment Group LLC, has continued to roll out new cases in 2018, hitting Amazon (with four additional cases), BlackBerry (four new cases), Huawei (one case), Microsoft (one case), Samsung (one case), and ZTE (four cases) just last week. One of the new suits against Amazon returns to Uniloc’s earlier litigation strategy, asserting a patent naming Uniloc cofounder Craig Etchegoyen as inventor, but the other new suits continue the assertion of former Philips patents received this past January from publicly traded NPE Pendrell Corporation. Pendrell sold hundreds of patent assets from its “Pendragon” portfolio (held by subsidiary Pendragon Wireless LLC) to Uniloc in January—the patents deriving from multiple original sources, including the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) and IBM as well as Philips. Nearly all of the new complaints have been filed in Texas, confirming Uniloc’s commitment to litigate in that state, if not solely in the Eastern District, after the US Supreme Court’s TC Heartland decision in May 2017.
Last year, Uniloc Luxembourg S.A. and Uniloc USA, Inc. (collectively, Uniloc) initiated 11 new litigation campaigns, all but one of them with a suit filed against Apple. In the subsequent months, Uniloc added LG Electronics (LGE) as a defendant in seven of those campaigns; Huawei in six of them; HTC, Lenovo (Motorola Mobility), and Samsung in four of them; and a few other companies in just one. 2018 appears to be shaping up similarly. Uniloc has so far opened up five new litigation campaigns this year, each with a suit against Apple, quickly adding Samsung to three of them; Logitech to one, and now, LGE to four (3:18-cv-00557, 3:18-cv-00559, 3:18-cv-00560, 3:18-cv-00561). The patents asserted were apparently acquired from Pendrell Corporation subsidiary Pendragon Wireless LLC, and the accused products form a long list of smartphones, tablets, wireless speakers, and many other computing devices.
After filing multiple new cases in February, first against Apple, then Samsung, Uniloc Luxembourg S.A. and Uniloc USA, Inc. (collectively, Uniloc) closed out the month with a suit against Logitech (5:18-cv-01304). The patent asserted, generally related to delivering data through “beacon devices”, is one among several that Uniloc has apparently acquired from Pendrell Corporation subsidiary Pendragon Wireless LLC. In a 10-K recently filed with the SEC, Pendrell indicated that it had divested the “majority” of its “Pendragon portfolio”, which contained “patents related to cellular and digital wireless devices and infrastructure” from multiple sources, including the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), IBM, and Philips. Logitech joins Apple as defendants in this campaign, with Uniloc’s infringement allegations focused on devices that “utilize Bluetooth Low Energy version 4.0 and above”.