North Star Innovations Inc. v. Sharp Electronics Corp.
- Filed: 06/16/2016
- Closed: 08/16/2016
- Latest Docket Entry: 08/16/2016
December 16, 2016
North Star Innovations Inc., a subsidiary of publicly traded NPE Wi-LAN, Inc. (WiLAN), has filed yet more cases asserting former Motorola patents, received from Freescale in a large October 2015 transaction. After dropping a case that asserted two such patents (5,961,373; 6,013,571) against Xilinx (1:16-cv-00773) in early September, North Star has filed a new suit against the company (1:16-cv-01182), alleging that Xilinx infringes a different patent (7,617,437). The ‘437 patent generally relates to error correction; Xilinx is accused of infringement through the provision of certain systems-on-a-chip (SOCs) that utilize error correction code (ECC) memory, including the Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC. North Star has also filed a new case against Seiko Epson (1:16-cv-01196), asserting a single patent (6,465,743), generally related to ball-grid array (BGA) chip packages, already at issue in earlier cases filed against ASE, Cypress Semiconductor, IDT, and TI.
December 2, 2016
Wi-LAN, Inc., through its subsidiary North Star Innovations Inc., has filed a second case against Toshiba (1:16-cv-01113) in 2016, again asserting patents (7,171,526; 7,573,416) received from Freescale in a much larger transfer in October 2015. In February of this year, North Star asserted other former Motorola/Freescale patents against Toshiba as part of a larger string of litigation that has now hit two dozen defendants, including Amazon, Canon, Fujitsu, HP, HTC, Microsoft, Sharp, and UMC, among others. The ‘526 patent generally relates to memory controllers and is asserted against Toshiba laptops (e.g. Protégé Z30 Ultrabook Laptop). The ‘416 patent generally relates to signal conversion with low power control and is asserted against Toshiba memory products (e.g. THGBX6T0T8LLFXF 15nm TLC 128 Gbit NAND Flash).
November 23, 2016
Wi-LAN Inc. (WiLAN) subs North Star Innovations Inc. and Smart Wearable Technologies Inc. continue to add new defendants to their respective campaigns. On November 14, North Star filed suit against Integrated Device Technology (IDT) (8:16-cv-02055 ), accusing the company of infringing a group of patents acquired from Freescale. The accused products include various semiconductor memory devices. Also on November 14, Smart Wearable Technologies sued Fitbit (3:16-cv-00077) over a former Barron Associates patent. These latest suits follow WiLAN’s recent announcement of disappointing Q3 earnings.
North Star’s complaint against IDT asserts three patents, all of which the NPE has previously litigated: 5,781,480 (asserted against Cypress Semiconductor in May); 6,093,972 (asserted against Advanced Semiconductor Engineering and Texas Instruments in October); and 6,465,743 (asserted against Texas Instruments last month). The patents issued to Motorola between 1998 and 2002, with estimated priority ranging between 1994 and 1998, and were transferred to North Star in an October 2015 deal with Freescale that reportedly involved over 3,300 patents.
To date, North Star has sued more than 25 companies over patents acquired from Freescale. Defendants include makers of mobile devices and e-readers (Amazon, HTC, Sony), cameras (Canon, GoPro, Nikon), and televisions (Sharp); videoconferencing companies (Polycom and Vidyo); and manufacturers of semiconductors and memory chips (Cypress Semiconductor, UMC, Xilinx). For an assessment of the NPE’s largest litigation campaign, see RPX Insight.
Smart Wearable’s suit against Fitbit, its first new case since launching its campaign in July, asserts a patent (6,997,882) generally related to monitoring a subject based on physiological and six degree-of-freedom (“6-DOF”) data. The ‘882 patent issued in February 2006 to Barron Associates, comprises a single-member family, and has an estimated priority date in December 2001. RPX has published a prior art search report concerning the patent, a copy of which can be accessed here.
As in Smart Wearable’s suits against ASUS, Microsoft, TCL, and Tom Tom, all filed in July 2016, the NPE accuses Fitbit of infringement through provision of fitness trackers. While Smart Wearable’s case against TCL appears to be winding down—the parties recently moved for a stay to allow time to finalize a settlement agreement—ASUS and Microsoft have each filed Rule 12 (b)(6) motions to dismiss (neither of which have yet been heard), and the case against TomTom is open in initial pleadings.
On November 3, WiLAN announced its Q3 2016 earnings, reporting lower revenue and net income compared to the same quarter last year. For details, see “Acacia’s Revenue Soars, and WiLAN’s Slumps, in Q3 2016” (November 2016). RPX periodically reports on the performance and activities of publicly traded NPEs, including WiLAN. The company’s most recent Public PAE Report, covering Q2 2016, can be accessed here.
November 2, 2016
North Star Innovations Inc. closed out October 2016 with one more suit in its campaign targeting semiconductors, memory products, and media devices. On October 28, the Wi-LAN Inc. (WiLAN) subsidiary sued Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) (4:16-cv-00827), accusing the company of infringing a group of four patents through the assembly and packaging of certain semiconductor products, including the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 Processor, which the complaint says can be found “in many different smartphones and tablets, including the ZTE Speed smartphone”. (Neither Qualcomm nor ZTE is named as a defendant in the new suit, and neither company has yet been added to this campaign.) The complaint asserts four patents, all generally related to semiconductor fabrication, acquired from Freescale in October of last year.
October 29, 2016
North Star Innovations Inc.’s latest suit, filed on October 26, accuses Texas Instruments (TI) of infringing a group of four patents generally related to semiconductor fabrication (1:16-cv-00995). The accused products include microprocessors and microcontrollers. To date, North Star, a subsidiary of publicly traded Wi-LAN Inc. (WiLAN), has sued more than 20 companies over patents acquired from Freescale. Defendants include makers of mobile devices and e-readers (Amazon, HTC, Sony), cameras (Canon, GoPro, Nikon), and televisions (Sharp), as well as manufacturers of semiconductors and memory chips (Cypress Semiconductor, UMC, Xilinx).
September 22, 2016
In May 2016, North Star Innovations Inc., a subsidiary of publicly traded Wi-LAN, Inc. (WiLAN), filed a single case (1:16-cv-00368) accusing both Cypress Semiconductor and UMC of infringing a semiconductor fabrication patent (5,961,373) through the manufacture and sale of memory devices made via a CMP (chemical-mechanical polish) process using an Applied Materials tool. Both defendants filed motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction over them in Delaware. North Star responded by opposing Cypress’s motion and by dismissing the claims against UMC without prejudice. The NPE has now filed a standalone case (8:16-cv-01721) against UMC, again asserting the ‘373 patent, but this time in the Central District of California.
September 8, 2016
North Star Innovations Inc., a subsidiary of publicly traded Wi-LAN, Inc. (WiLAN), has added another Delaware case to its steadily expanding campaign by filing a complaint against Xilinx (1:16-cv-00773). The NPE asserts one patent (5,961,373) already familiar in the campaign, as well as one (6,013,571) asserted for the first time. Both were developed at Motorola and were received by WiLAN from Freescale in a large assignment of rights in October 2015; they generally relate to semiconductor fabrication and assembly, respectively. Certain Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) products of Xilinx are the accused products in the new case.
August 29, 2016
Nanya, the first defendant named in the ever-growing litigation campaign of North Star Innovations Inc., recently filed petitions for inter partes review (IPR) of two of three former Motorola/Freescale patents asserted against it. Shortly thereafter, Nanya moved to stay the underlying district court case in Delaware. North Star, a subsidiary of publicly traded Canadian NPE Wi-LAN, Inc. (WiLAN), has both opposed that motion to stay and filed a second case (8:16-cv-01591) in a different forum, the Central District of California, asserting three different patents (5,893,752; 6,043,146; 6,127,875) acquired from Freescale.
August 25, 2016
North Star Innovations Inc. has filed three more cases in a large litigation campaign primarily asserting patents in which it received rights from Freescale in October 2015. The plaintiff asserts a single patent (5,892,777), already in suit in cases filed against Amazon, Canon, GoPro, Integrated Silicon Solution, Microsoft, and Nanya, against new defendants HP (1:16-cv-00728), HTC (1:16-cv-00729), and Nikon (1:16-cv-00730). The ‘777 patent generally relates to the operation of a memory device, and the complaints focus infringement accusations on HP’s ElitePad (identifying an Elpida memory product and an Intel Atom processor), HTC’s One M9 smartphone (identifying a Samsung memory product and a Qualcomm processor), and Nikon’s SDLR Camera (identifying a Samsung memory product and Nikon image processor).
June 24, 2016
North Star Innovations Inc. has filed three more cases in one of its multiple campaigns asserting patents acquired in October 2015 from Freescale before its acquisition by NXP Semiconductors in December 2015. This past week, the Wi-LAN, Inc. (WiLAN) subsidiary sued Amazon (1:16-cv-00444), GoPro (1:16-cv-00445), and Sharp (1:16-cv-00446), accusing the companies of infringing a patent generally related to integrated circuits (5,892,777). North Star’s complaint against Amazon also asserts a second patent, 7,043,479, which generally relates to updating content on a media player. The accused products include Amazon’s Kindle Fire, GoPro’s Hero4 Session camera, and Sharp’s AQUOS Crystal mobile phone. These latest filings bring the total number of defendants in this campaign to 11; the other defendants include Etron Technology, Integrated Device Technology, Nanya, Sony, and Toshiba.
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