The QR code campaign of IP Edge LLC affiliate Kaldren LLC has gone national, picking up seven new defendants so far in August in various venues across the country, even as earlier cases also face venue changes. Kaldren has added two new suits in the Eastern District of Texas, the NPE’s original venue, chosen before the US Supreme Court’s May, TC Heartland decision: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (5:17-cv-00155) and Stemco (5:17-cv-00156). It has also filed new cases in the District of Delaware, against Cigna (1:17-cv-01160); in the Northern District of Illinois, against Rust-Oleum (1:17-cv-06149) and Trippe Manufacturing (1:17-cv-06151); and in the Western District of Wisconsin, against La Crosse Technology (3:17-cv-00661), Madison Gas & Electric (3:17-cv-00663), and Wausau Paper (3:17-cv-00664).
IP Edge LLC affiliate Kaldren LLC has added Kik US (1:17-cv-00752) and Snap (1:17-cv-00753) to its QR code campaign, suing the companies in Delaware (where they were formed) over a family of four patents (6,098,882; 6,176,427; 6,820,807; 8,281,999) generally related to encoding digital data in a machine-readable format. The defendants’ social networking apps are targeted for their use of QR codes. These latest filings follow a flurry of dismissals and transfers in Kaldren’s first two waves of litigation, one of which was filed in the Eastern District of Texas, the other in the Southern District of New York.
The patents-in-campaign each issued between August 2000 and October 2012 to Massachusetts-based Cobblestone Software, claiming priority in March 1996. Cobblestone Software was formed in Delaware in March 1995 by named inventors Thomas C. and Walter G. Antogninis. Thomas appears to have earned a doctorate degree in mathematics and to have held technical roles at several companies, including ventures in which both Antogninis have held an interest (e.g. Heartland, Inc. (f/k/a International Wireless f/k/a Origin Investment Group)). Walter is a New York lawyer and a professor at Pace University.
Cobblestone Software’s barebones website characterizes the company as “the true pioneer of the concept of hyperlinking the physical world using bar codes” and the ‘807 patent as “cover[ing] the basic concept of using bar codes as physical world hyperlinks, a breadth that is unsurprising given our own priority as the pioneering company in this space”. Cobblestone transferred the patents-in-campaign to Kaldren in November 2016.
Kaldren launched its sole litigation campaign in March 2017 with suits against Citigroup, General Mills, J.D. Power and Associates, NeilMed Pharmaceuticals, Pioneer, Procter & Gamble, and SunTrust Banks. On June 8, Kaldren moved to dismiss its case against General Mills with prejudice; two days earlier, Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven had granted the defendant’s May 4 motion to transfer the case against it to the District of Minnesota. (General Mills’s principal place of business is in Minneapolis, Minnesota.) Kaldren voluntarily dismissed its suit against SunTrust Banks (a Delaware corporation with a principal place of business in Georgia) with prejudice on May 30. In the cases against the remaining first-wave defendants, extensions of the deadline to answer have been granted.
Earlier this month, Kaldren was ordered by two Southern District of New York judges to explain how venue is proper in that district given TC Heartland; the NPE had filed its second wave of litigation there, against American Express, The Hain Celestial Group, HSBC, JP Morgan Chase, and PNY Technologies. As of the publication date of this article, the statuses of each of those cases are as follows:
The parties have reported that they have reached a settlement in principle; the case will be dismissed on July 10 unless either party requests otherwise.
The Hain Celestial Group
By letter dated May 30, Kaldren stated that “[u]nder 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b) and TC Heartland”, Hain “‘resides’ in Delaware because it is incorporated there”, but also claims to have evidence that Hain “‘committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business’ in New Hyde Park, New York”. Kaldren has requested that the court transfer the case sua sponte or by agreed motion of the parties to the Eastern District of New York.
The defendant has not answered Kaldren’s complaint.
An initial pretrial conference is set for August 17, 2017.
The parties have agreed to a transfer to the District of New Jersey.
Four days after the US Supreme Court issued its TC Heartland decision, returning to its previous, narrower interpretation of where proper venue lies in patent cases, an affiliate of Texas-based monetization firm IP Edge LLC has taken the rare step of filing litigation outside the Eastern District of Texas. Venadium LLC has asserted the sole patent at issue in its campaign (6,330,549) in Northern District of Illinois complaints against three companies allegedly formed in that state—Paylocity (1:17-cv-04002), State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance (1:17-cv-04004), and W.W. Grainger (1:17-cv-03999)—as well as against two Delaware companies—Allstate Insurance (1:17-cv-03998) and Hyatt Hotels (1:17-cv-04001). Meanwhile, Somaltus LLC, another IP Edge affiliate, agreed to postpone a scheduling conference in an ongoing Eastern District of Texas case to allow that court to rule on a pending motion to dismiss filed by the Ohio defendant, The Noco Company,for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue. Late this past week, Magistrate Judge Roy S. Payne granted the motion, transferring that case out of Texas to the Northern District of Ohio. Finally, last week two Southern District of New York judges asked IP Edge affiliate Kaldren LLC to submit letters explaining why venue is proper in cases that that the NPE brought earlier this month in that district.
Kaldren LLC, apparently among the many litigating affiliates of monetization firm IP Edge LLC, has filed a second round of suits in its litigation campaign, hitting American Express (1:17-cv-03625), The Hain Celestial Group (1:17-cv-03638), HSBC (1:17-cv-03640), JP Morgan Chase (1:17-cv-03641), and PNY Technologies (1:17-cv-03644). The new complaints again assert a family of four patents (6,098,882; 6,176,427; 6,820,807; 8,281,999), generally related to encoding digital data in a machine-readable format, with the defendants’ accused products and services targeted for their use of QR codes. Extensions of the deadline to answer have been granted in the cases from the first round, filed in March of this year against Citigroup, General Mills, J.D. Power and Associates, NeilMed Pharmaceuticals, Pioneer, Procter & Gamble, and SunTrust Banks.