The May 2018 assignment of seemingly the entire patent portfolio of Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited to Fortress Investment Group LLC triggered a legal throw-down over standing in the cases that Uniloc had filed over some of those patents before their transfer, as well as the dismissal and refiling of the cases that Fortress brought after their transfer. Undeterred, Fortress—through controlled plaintiff and apparent patent owner Uniloc 2017 LLC—also continues to file new suits, over the past two weeks adding HTC and Lenovo (Motorola Mobility) to several campaigns already underway against smartphone and tablet manufacturers Apple, BlackBerry, Huawei, LG Electronics, and/or Samsung, and asserting two media distribution patents already at issue in cases previously filed against Walt Disney (ABC) and Hulu.
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.
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.