UNILOC USA, INC. et al v. EXCLUSIVE GROUP LLC DC
- Filed: 10/27/2017
- Closed: 08/29/2018
- Latest Docket Entry: 09/25/2018
- All Upcoming Events:
The Public Has No Interest in the Details of Patent License Payments, Rules Divided Federal Circuit PanelFebruary 10, 2022
Over the past few years, Uniloc 2017 LLC has been embroiled in several appellate battles over legal issues stemming from its complex relationship with parent Fortress Investment Group LLC and other affiliates. The Federal Circuit has just closed another chapter in one of those battles, this one focused on whether Uniloc would be forced to unseal the details of its licenses with third parties as a result of a dispute over standing. A divided panel of that court has answered that question in the negative, holding that the public does not have a broad interest in the consideration paid for patent licenses—ordering Northern District of California Judge William Alsup to revisit a sweeping unsealing order that had already been the subject of one appeal and remand. The decision prompted a heated dissent from Circuit Judge Haldane R. Mayer.
December 10, 2021
RPX detailed last week how the once-prolific litigant Uniloc 2017 LLC, a Fortress Investment Group LLC subsidiary, has ceased the active filing of litigation as it fights multiple appellate battles before the Federal Circuit. One of those appeals challenges a ruling that the NPE lacked standing in litigation with Google, while a second appeal deals with a related decision requiring Uniloc 2017 to disclose various details on its licensing activity. On December 6, oral arguments for the latter appeal took place before the Federal Circuit, with judges pressing counsel for Uniloc, defendant-appellee Apple, and intervenor Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on the proper standard for weighing motions to seal third-party licensing information.
December 3, 2021
Uniloc 2017 LLC was a notably prolific litigant around three years ago, but the NPE has since ceased the active filing of litigation as it fights appellate battles on multiple fronts. Late last month, one of those appeals ended adversely for the Fortress Investment Group LLC subsidiary, when the Federal Circuit affirmed a consolidated Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision for Apple, Facebook and WhatsApp, Huawei, and LG Electronics (LGE) that invalidated claims from a Uniloc patent and ordered the PTAB to reconsider two additional claims previously upheld. Meanwhile, that same court is weighing Uniloc’s challenges of two rulings with an already sweeping impact: an order finding that Uniloc lacked standing when it sued Alphabet (Google) based on a provision from its funding agreements with Fortress, and another in litigation against Apple that forced the NPE to unseal a swath of documents detailing its licensing activity.
December 30, 2020
Last month, District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California dismissed one of the many cases filed against Apple by subsidiaries of Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited, holding that the NPE lacked standing because it had relinquished certain patent rights to funder Fortress Investment Group LLC by defaulting on a financing agreement. Judge Alsup has now dealt Uniloc another blow, in a related battle over confidentiality. After previously rejecting Uniloc’s attempt to seal a wide swath of information about its patent assertion business, Judge Alsup has ordered the NPE to disclose further information about its licenses with third parties, ruling on remand after the Federal Circuit, while largely upholding his earlier decision, directed him to revisit that issue. Meanwhile, Judge Alsup’s order on the plaintiff’s standing defects has continued to ripple through Uniloc’s other campaigns, triggering the dismissal of another set of cases, against Google.
December 11, 2020
The Northern District of California has just dismissed one (3:18-cv-00358) of the many cases filed by subsidiaries of Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited against Apple throughout 2017 and 2018—for reasons that could ripple through the whole set of Uniloc campaigns. Uniloc has been backed by Fortress Investment Group LLC for years, the two enterprises entering into a complex set of agreements that, according to District Judge William Alsup, deprived the Uniloc subsidiaries of standing to file suit by the time that they did. Judge Alsup had considered an Apple motion challenging standing before, reaching the opposite result in 2019. In reversing course, however, the court cited two previously missing “crucial facts”, both of which contributed to a “broader error of law” in the prior ruling.
Federal Circuit Largely Upholds Dismissal of Uniloc Sealing Bid, Soundly Rejecting “Overbroad” RedactionsJuly 12, 2020
In late 2018, subsidiaries of Australian NPE Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited became embroiled in a dispute with Apple over whether the complex nature of the NPE’s relationship with Fortress Investment Group LLC caused a standing defect in four Uniloc infringement suits. While that dispute has gone dormant, another battle resulted from Uniloc’s related motion to seal—which covered not only certain facts cited by Apple in its standing challenge, but also a wide swath of information encompassing Uniloc’s patent assertion business, its various agreements with Fortress, details on Uniloc licenses with third parties, and even certain materials already in the public record. Last year, District Judge William Alsup denied Uniloc’s motion to seal and rejected its attempt to make a more limited set of redactions. The Federal Circuit has just upheld most of those rulings, affirming as to Uniloc-specific information and echoing Judge Alsup’s conclusion that Uniloc should have made its request narrower in the first place. However, the appeals court remanded as to whether details of certain third-party licenses should stay sealed.Access to the full article is currently available to RPX members only. Please contact us if you need further information.
Federal Circuit Addresses Apple-Uniloc Standing Battle in Related Alice Appeal, Calling Fortress Agreement “Little More Than a ‘Hunting License’”September 1, 2019
An ongoing dispute over standing continues to simmer in litigation between Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited and Apple, the latter of which has alleged that the NPE relinquished certain rights in the patents-in-suit by defaulting under a long series of agreements with Fortress Investment Group LLC—thereby depriving Uniloc of the right to sue. District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California rejected those arguments earlier this year, ruling that any default(s) by Uniloc had since been cured. While Judge Alsup declined to reconsider that decision in early August, he also allowed Apple to later seek a trial and conduct discovery on the issues of default and cure. Any additional evidence such discovery might uncover could now spill over into another Uniloc case, dismissed under Alice before the standing battle began and currently on appeal, as the result of a new Federal Circuit ruling. On August 30, the appeals court remanded that lawsuit for consideration of Apple’s subsequently raised standing challenge, ordering Judge Alsup to supplement the record and resolve the same jurisdictional issues hanging over the other four proceedings.
Judge Alsup Declines to Revisit Ruling on Apple-Uniloc Standing Battle but Allows Discovery on Fortress AgreementsAugust 9, 2019
An ongoing dispute over standing in litigation between Apple and Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited (Uniloc) continues to evolve. Last year, Apple sought the dismissal of four of Uniloc’s cases against it after learning of a complex set of agreements between the NPE and Fortress Investment Group LLC, arguing that Uniloc’s alleged “defaults” under those agreements had deprived Uniloc of standing by automatically shifting certain rights in the asserted patents to Fortress. District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California denied that motion in January, instead holding that Fortress had shown through its conduct that Uniloc had cured any such defaults. On August 7, Judge Alsup declined Apple’s request to reconsider that ruling but included two notable exceptions that could leave the door open for further litigation on standing: he permitted Apple to later seek a trial on the issues of default and cure and allowed it to seek discovery on those same topics. Judge Alsup’s decision to approve discovery is a notable setback for Uniloc, which continues to fight a prior order requiring it to disclose a variety of information about its agreements with Fortress, its prior licenses, and other related documents.
March 8, 2019
In October 2018, a battle over standing erupted in litigation between Apple and Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited (Uniloc). Apple had moved to dismiss four of Uniloc’s cases against it after learning of a complex set of agreements between the NPE and Fortress Investment Group LLC, arguing that Uniloc’s purported “defaults” under those agreements had deprived Uniloc of standing by shifting sufficient rights in the asserted patents to Fortress. District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California denied that motion in January, holding in part that Fortress had shown through its conduct that Uniloc had cured any defaults that had occurred. Apple has now moved for reconsideration of that order, asserting that at least one of Uniloc’s defaults could not have been excused under the evidence presented and that the purported “cure” was really an implied waiver, which would be barred under the relevant agreements—under which any waiver by Fortress must be in writing. Uniloc, meanwhile, has asked the court to roll back certain redactions in Apple’s motion, arguing that only a narrower set of contractual terms between the NPE and Fortress needed to be withheld.
Standing Battle Escalates in Fortress-Uniloc Cases as Redactions Get Rolled Back, but Key Licensing Terms Remain SealedFebruary 24, 2019
A contentious battle over standing has continued to develop in litigation between Apple and Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited (Uniloc). Earlier this month, District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California rejected Apple’s argument that Uniloc’s purported “defaults” under a complex set of agreements with Fortress Investment Group LLC had deprived Uniloc of standing by shifting sufficient rights in the asserted patents to Fortress. Apple has now sought permission to move for reconsideration, asserting that Judge Alsup erred by adopting an argument not briefed by the parties and by finding that Uniloc had cured any defaults that had existed. Meanwhile, a related dispute over confidentiality has also heated up in the wake of Judge Alsup’s mid-January order that Uniloc could not justify the broad withholding of details about its agreements with Fortress. Uniloc has now filed a motion for reconsideration of that decision, seeking a much more limited set of redactions—in the process, revealing new details about the evolving Uniloc-Fortress relationship.
February 3, 2019
District Judge William Alsup in the Northern District of California has ruled on a motion questioning whether Uniloc Luxembourg S.a.r.l. (f/k/a Uniloc Luxembourg S.A.) and Uniloc USA, Inc., subsidiaries of Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited, had standing to sue at the time that they filed a raft of lawsuits against Apple in their original forum, the Eastern District of Texas. Judge Alsup ruled that the Uniloc plaintiffs did have standing, rejecting Apple’s argument that a purported “default” under a set of December 2014 agreements between Uniloc and Fortress Investment Group LLC, as subsequently and repeatedly amended, had shifted sufficient rights to Fortress to destroy Uniloc’s standing. Apple had also opposed a motion to add Uniloc 2017 LLC as a plaintiff, arguing that joining new patent owner Uniloc 2017 could not fix a lapse in standing caused by a May 2018 transfer of the Uniloc patent portfolio from Uniloc Luxembourg to Uniloc 2017. Judge Alsup ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor, granting their motion to join Uniloc 2017.
November PTAB Activity Included IPRs Against Fortress as Standing Dispute over Uniloc Deal Escalates, with Apple Rejecting “Oxymoronic” CounterattackDecember 7, 2018
In November 2018, Fortress Investment Group, LLC subsidiary Uniloc 2017 LLC was hit by a series of inter partes review (IPR) petitions filed by Apple as the two parties continue to brief a contentious dispute over standing in related district court litigation. November also saw the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) institute trial in IPRs involving Japanese patent monetization firm IP Bridge, Inc. and issue final decisions in IPRs against Quarterhill Inc. and Alacritech, Inc., the latter an operating company-turned-NPE formed by SCSI inventor Larry Boucher.