Back in December 2020, StratosAudio, Inc. filed separate cases against automakers Hyundai, Mazda, Subaru, Volkswagen, and Zhejiang Geely (Volvo). Infringement allegations centered on the provision of vehicle infotainment systems, but the campaign quickly ran into the issue of whether venue could lie in the Western District of Texas based on the presence of and relationships with car dealerships there. In a pair of September 2021 orders, District Judge Alan D. Albright ruled that venue tied to in-district dealerships can be proper, prompting Hyundai and Volkswagen to seek writs of mandamus from the Federal Circuit on the issue (2022-0108, 2022-0109), rulings now awaited in several other litigation campaigns in Texas.
Conti Temic Microelectronic and its subsidiary ADC Automotive Distance Control Systems, both Continental AG companies (1:21-cv-00826), have asked the Eastern District of Virginia for declaratory judgments of noninfringement and invalidity of a single patent, generally related to a “voltage-controlled oscillator” and held by NPE Arigna Technology Limited. Arigna sued a fleet of automakers, first in the Eastern District of Texas and then before the International Trade Commission (ITC), over that same patent, alleging infringement through the incorporation of certain radar sensor modules (involving NXP Semiconductors MR2001 oscillators). The Continental subsidiaries plead that among those automakers are customers that have sought its indemnification and defense.
Sonraí Memory Limited has sued Kingston Technology (8:21-cv-01039) and Western Digital (8:21-cv-01040) over the provision of devices that contain “SanDisk/Toshiba 64L 3D NAND flash chips”, as well as solid state drives (SSDs) that include Silicon Motion SSD controllers (Kingston) or Marvell SSD controllers (Western Digital). These new suits expand a campaign that started in February of this year with Western District of Texas cases against Alphabet (Google), LG Electronics (LGE), and Samsung and that proceeded with separate additional suits filed against Apple, Dell, and Kioxia in April, also in West Texas. The new litigation, by contrast, has been filed in the Central District of California.
This year is off to an active start for a web of Irish NPEs litigating former operating company patents picked up from various sources. In February, Sonraí Memory Limited began two litigation campaigns, a first hitting Oracle over a former HP patent (development work having occurred before the split into HP Enterprise (HPE) and HP Inc.) and a second accusing Alphabet (Google), LG Electronics (LGE), and Samsung of infringing one former Atmel patent and another patent originally developed at HP. Last week, the same Irish NPE added a suit against Dell (6:21-cv-00361) to the latter campaign, accusing it of infringing that Atmel patent, as well as two additional patents, also acquired through Microchip Technology. Meanwhile, Arigna Technology Limited amended its Texas complaint against a fleet of automakers to assert a second former Mitsubishi Electric patent, as well as to add GM as a defendant, and Solas OLED Limited has followed up its recent East Texas trial win against Samsung with a new suit asserting two former Casio patents against BOE Technology (2:21-cv-00121).
Last July, RPXflagged public records indicating that a growing web of Irish NPEs with ties to Magnetar Capital—a hedge fund with $12.3B in assets under management—were acquiring patents from major operating companies. This past month saw two of those NPEs—Arigna Technology Limited and Sonraí Memory Limited—launch their first campaigns, wielding former HP Enterprise (HPE), Mitsubishi, or Microchip (Atmel) patents in suits targeting automakers and device makers. Meanwhile, USPTO records indicate that yet more well-funded Irish NPEs are waiting in the wings—some with former operating company portfolios already in hand.