Pantech Corporation v. BLU Products, Inc.
- Filed: 01/26/2021
- Case Updated Daily
- Latest Docket Entry: 04/27/2021
February 19, 2021
Delaware plaintiff Helios Streaming, LLC (as exclusive licensee) and its Korean parent Ideahub, Inc. (as patent owner) have followed up their January case against Fandango (8:21-cv-00211) with a new suit against Comcast (NBC Universal Media, Peacock TV) (8:21-cv-00259). The two cases fall within a media streaming campaign in which the plaintiffs target “the standard for dynamic adaptive streaming delivery of MPEG media over HTTP, ISO/IEC 23009-1:2014, and subsequent versions of this standard” (MPEG-DASH). Both were filed in the Central District of California wing of the campaign, in which District Judge James V. Selna just held a claim construction hearing; a Markman hearing in the Delaware cases is currently scheduled for this May.
The plaintiffs assert three patents (10,270,830; 10,313,414; 10,356,145) in each new case in the campaign, adding assertion of a fourth (10,362,130) against Fandango only. These patents-in-suit form a subset of those already at issue across the earlier cases in the campaign, filed against CBS (Showtime), Crackle, Sony, and Walmart (VUDU) in the District of Delaware and against Lions Gate Entertainment (Starz Entertainment) in the Central District of California. Those patents break out into seven members from a family of ten (8,645,562; 8,909,805; 9,325,558; 9,467,493; 10,027,736; 10,277,660; and the ‘130 patent); two members of a family of four (the ‘830 and ‘414 patents); and a single patent from each of two more families, one having two members (10,375,373) and the other three (the ‘145 patent).
The originally development work was conducted, in whole or in part, by the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), with an August 2018 assignment agreement from Ideahub to Helios, filed with the USPTO, revealing that ETRI, Intellectual Discovery Co., Ltd., and Korea Aerospace University having each retained an interest in assertion efforts based on the terms of an earlier agreement executed in April 2018 (and apparently not attached to the relevant assignment records). For a walk-through of what those filed documents reveal, see “Recent Media Streaming Campaign Expands Outside of Delaware” (November 2019).
On its public website, Ideahub describes itself as a Korean patent monetization firm, based in Seoul, hoping to “be a connecting port for such  ideas, just like a HUB airport”. Kyeong-su “Keith” Im identifies himself as having been the CEO and president of Ideahub since October 2016. He reports past work with LG Electronics, from January 1996 through April 2012, with a subsequent position (as “IP Licensing Director”) with Intellectual Discovery from May 2012 to June 2013, followed by the time as “Senior Director” with TiVo/Rovi (Rovi having acquired TiVo in 2016).
Providing an Irvine, California address, Helios Streaming was formed in Delaware in February 2018. It has advertised that it “has acquired and will continue to acquire intellectual property rights covering the necessary features and technologies utilized by the video streaming industry”. Los Angeles attorney Emil Kim holds himself out as the entity’s president and founder. Kim also identifies himself as having been a senior director of licensing at TiVo/Rovi since April 2014. Hyungseok “Harold” Ko served as the correspondent on the Ideahub-to-Helios license agreement; Ko was also the correspondent on the assignment of patents from ETRI to Ideahub. (In assignment records, Helios lists the same Delaware registered agent address as Ko—and as litigating NPE SynKloud Technologies, LLC—8 The Green, Suite A, Dover.)
Ideahub shares management with Glocom, Inc., the parent entity of litigating NPEs SIPCO LLC and Modern Telecom Systems, LLC. (Blockchain-centric LegalBlock includes Kyeong-su Im among its legal team, describing him as the CEO of both Ideahub and Glocom.) One point, litigation by Helios, Modern Telecom, and SIPCO appeared to have fit into a set of five “licensing programs” once described on Ideahub’s website—IOT and Industrial Automation, Wireless & Telecommunication, MPEG Audio, AR & VR, and Video Entertainment—further consideration of which can be reviewed at “Former Imbera Electronics Assets Appear Headed Toward Assertion” (March 2020). The current iteration of Ideahub’s public website seems to have streamlined the programs (now called “Licensing Platform [sic]”) down to IOT Licensing, Streaming Licensing, and Telecommunications.
Despite that streamlining, Im’s monetization efforts have recently expanded. In May 2020, NPE GoldPeak Innovations Inc. assigned more than 200 US patent assets, developed by one-time South Korean mobile phone maker Pantech, to Im’s new vehicle, Pantech Corporation. GoldPeak picked up its Pantech portfolio from Pantech in a series of assignments dated in October 2016, subsequently transferring small batches of those assets back to Pantech (in April 2017), to Apple (in May 2017), and to Facebook (in February 2020). Youngjoon Rhee signed as GoldPeak’s CEO in 2017, with Saekyung Park signing from that position in the May 2020 deal with the new Pantech Corporation. (That deal leaves GoldPeak holding a handful of issued US patents, at least according to currently available USPTO records.)
In late January, Im’s Pantech sued BLU Products (1:21-cv-20327) over six of its received patents (6,809,641; 8,538,411; 8,787,216; 8,873,519; 9,237,566; 9,854,545) in the Southern District of Florida. That new complaint describes the former opco Pantech as the plaintiff’s predecessor-in-interest, the plaintiff further outlining the situation: “Pantech Co., Ltd. was formed in 1991, and as the result of a restructuring and acquisition in 2015 became Pantech, Inc. Thereafter, Pantech Corporation was formed. Pantech, Inc. transferred its assets to Pantech Corporation as part of an asset sale in 2020”, the complaint lumping all three entities under the umbrella “Pantech” moniker the rest of the way.
Earlier in its complaint, plaintiff Pantech indicates that it was formed in South Korea. Its public website currently declares that “[w]hile its smartphone business has been suspended, Pantech is currently involved with developing new cutting-edge technology in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. The new complaint describes the portfolio of “Pantech” (again, defined to include multiple iterations): “Pantech’s portfolio of intellectual property is broad and extensive, comprising thousands of worldwide patents and patent applications in the areas of telecommunications, ‘smart’ devices, and Internet of Things products. Pantech’s portfolio, in one aspect, covers wireless communication systems and devices and methods for using those communication systems. In the wireless technology space alone, Pantech holds more than 200 U.S. patents and applications, many of which have been declared standard essential patents”.
All but the ‘641 patent generally relate to wireless communications, with initial infringement allegation targeting various smartphones over their support of certain cellular standards, including LTE and LTE Advanced. The ‘641 patent broadly pertains to temporarily disabling an alarm; the new Pantech accuses BLU Products of infringement through support within those smartphones of date-limited alarms.
The Comcast and Fandango cases have been assigned to Judge Selna. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke presides over Pantech’s suit against BLU Products. 1/26, Pantech v. BLU Products, Southern District of Florida; 1/29, Ideahub/Helios v. Fandango, Central District of California; 2/9, Ideahub/Helios v. Comcast, Central District of California.