Neodron Ltd v. Microsoft Corporation
- Filed: 05/21/2019
- Closed: 06/26/2019
- Latest Docket Entry: 01/15/2021
One Claim Construction Order in Hand, Another Imminent, Neodrón Expands East Texas Wing of Touchscreen CampaignJuly 26, 2020
Neodrón Limited has added separate Eastern District of Texas cases against Fujitsu (2:20-cv-00239) and Panasonic (2:20-cv-00241) to its ever more sprawling touchscreen litigation campaign. The three patents asserted against these latest defendants have already made an appearance against others in suit, with infringement allegations targeting the provision of certain products that feature touch screens, including convertible laptops, tablets, and touchscreen displays throughout. Two actions before the International Trade Commission (ITC) have prompted stays in most of the earlier district court cases in the campaign—but not in all of them. This month District Judge Susan Illston handed down an order construing disputed claim terms in a case filed against Lenovo (Motorola Mobility) in the Northern District of California, roughly two weeks after District Judge Alan D. Albright held a Markman hearing in a set of consolidated cases in the Western District of Texas.
Yet More Patents Brought into Neodrón’s Touch-Sensitive Devices Campaign, Against a Familiar DefendantJuly 11, 2020
Neodrón Limited has filed yet another suit against Samsung (Samsung Display) (6:20-cv-00623) over patents from its touch sensors and controls portfolio, two of them already making appearances in other complaints in the campaign and three of them new to litigation. The plaintiff again targets the provision of certain laptops, smartphones, and tablets, including the Notebook 9 Pro laptop, Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S10 smartphones, and Galaxy Tab A tablets. Neodrón’s campaign has been growing steadily since it began in May 2019, with most district court cases, including this one, filed in the Western District of Texas, along with two actions before the International Trade Commission (ITC).
June 25, 2020
Neodrón Limited has followed up recent suits, one against Infineon Technologies (Cypress Semiconductor) in the Western District of Texas and another against TI in the Eastern District of Texas, with a complaint filed against STMicro (6:20-cv-00560), also in the Western District. The NPE targets the provision of certain STM touchcontrollers—including the “FTM5CU56A, and STM32 microcontrollers, such as STM32F0, STM32F3, STM32FL0, STM32L1, and STM32L4 series and STM32L0538-DISCO and STM32F072B-DISCO”—with four touch sensitive control patents, three of which are familiar to existing campaign defendants and one of which is new to the litigation.
June 14, 2020
Last week Neodrón Limited added two suits—one against Infineon Technologies (Cypress Semiconductor) (6:20-cv-00523) in the Western District of Texas and another against TI (2:20-cv-00190) in the Eastern District of Texas—to the touch-sensitive devices campaign that it began roughly one year ago. Several former Atmel patents are asserted in each complaint, two of which are new to litigation. With these additional cases, the number of defendants in the campaign has now passed a dozen and the number of patents asserted, to two dozen.
March 28, 2020
Irish NPE Neodrón Limited has filed a second Western District of Texas case against Apple (6:20-cv-00212), already a defendant in a case filed there in February. Apple is also a respondent in a related investigation before the International Trade Commission (ITC)—the second ITC action filed by Neodrón in this campaign (337-TA-1193). Fellow respondent Samsung sought to delay institution of the investigation altogether in the -1193 action in light of the global coronavirus pandemic, but to no avail. Institution occurred on March 16. However, the hearing in the first ITC action (337-TA-1162) has been postponed. Pursuant to ITC COVID-19 guidance to suspend all hearings scheduled to fall within 60 days of March 13, 2020, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Cameron Elliot has just reset the hearing in the -1162 action, from March 23 to June 8. The plain language description from the second ITC action fairly describes the products that Neodrón accuses of infringement campaign wide: “touch-controlled smartphones, touch-controlled tablet devices, touch-controlled notebook computers, touch-controlled laptop computers, and components thereof”.
The patents asserted in the new complaint against Apple (7,821,502; 9,823,784; 10,146,351) generally relate to touch sensors and controls, as do the more than 20 patents asserted across the campaign. Neodrón calls out the iPad Pro 3rd Gen 12.9 inch tablet as an example of the touchscreen devices accused of infringing the ‘502 patent (also at issue against Amazon, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft, and Samsung); the iPhone 11 Pro Max smartphone and iPad Pro 3rd Gen 12.9 inch tablet, of infringing the ‘784 patent (also at issue against Amazon); and the iPhone XS smartphone and Macbook Pro 13 in laptop, of infringing the ‘351 patent (appearing for the first time in litigation).
The ‘351 patent issued in December 2018 as the middle patent in a three-member family, the original development work for which occurred at Atmel, which Microchip acquired in 2016. (The third patent in that family (10,365,747) is already in suit in Neodrón’s campaign.) The plaintiff receiving the bulk of its patent holdings from Microchip in December 2018 (with a transfer of a three-patent family from an associated entity, Solas OLED Limited, dated in September 2019). In its first ITC complaint, filed in May 2019, Neodrón pleads that its action would protect a domestic industry through the alleged activity of its licensee Microchip. The ITC respondents challenged that claim to a domestic industry in an omnibus motion for summary determination, which also attacked the sufficiency of Neodrón’s infringement evidence. On February 7, 2020, ALJ Elliot issued an order denying the motion. Neodrón relies on the domestic activities of Atmel and Microchip in its second ITC complaint as well.
On March 6, the respondents in the -1162 action (Amazon, Dell, HP, Lenovo (Motorola Mobility), Microsoft, and Samsung) filed a “Motion to Suspend and Modify the Procedural Schedule, Including the Hearing Date, in Light of COVID-19”, the public version of which is available here. Among other things, the brief argued that “Samsung’s and Microsoft’s fact witnesses and corporate representatives based in Korea, King County, and Japan will be simply unable to travel to and attend the currently-scheduled hearing because of the outbreak”, particularly in those locations.
Neodrón opposed the motion, characterizing the request to suspend as “unprecedented”, in part because any travel restrictions impeding witness attendance are “self-imposed”: “There has never been an order on a motion suspending the schedule in a 337 Investigation for patent infringement where, as here, the witnesses have been deposed or where there are no government-imposed travel restrictions on the already deposed witnesses, but only private-company restrictions to travel ‘essential’ for profit-making activities”. Neodrón pleads that it “explored video-testimony options by contacting two companies who are both familiar to Respondents and very experienced with facilitating remote video testimony” to facilitate an on-schedule hearing: “Good news is: this is perfectly feasible”.
ALJ Elliot suspended the hearing date to await guidance from the Commission, on the eve of which he postponed the hearing to June 8, 2020. In the more recent (-1193) action, Samsung made similar arguments, concerning hardship in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, in a letter seeking delay in the institution of an investigation in response to Neodrón’s complaint: “Parties from the affected regions and those who work with them are currently hampered in their abilities to fully cooperate and participate in these investigations. The U.S. government has issued ‘Do Not Travel’ advisories and has outright banned arrivals from certain countries, with additional travel bans expected shortly”. Ten days later, an investigation was instituted. The respondents in the -1193 action are Amazon, Apple, ASUSTek, LG Electronics, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, Samsung, and Sony.
Many district court complaints, filed mostly but not entirely in the Western District of Texas, have been filed against these defendants—a patent assertion grid across the campaign can be reviewed on RPX Insight here.
Neodrón was formed in early December 2018 in Ireland, as part of a group of associated Irish entities, including Solas OLED, as well as Data Scape Limited and Sonraí Memory Limited. Data Scape and Solas OLED have each launched campaigns of their own, while Sonraí Memory has received (in early February 2020), but not yet asserted in litigation, a portfolio of patent assets from Microchip and its subsidiaries Atmel and Microsemi. An exploration of the connections between the entities, as well as its backing by hedge fund Magnetar Capital, is provided at “Trio of Irish Entities Litigating US Patents Appears on the Verge of Becoming a Quartet” (February 2020). 3/23, Western District of Texas.
Neodrón Adds New Defendants and Patents to Touchscreen Campaign, While Hitting Existing Defendants AgainFebruary 14, 2020
Neodrón Limited has further expanded its touchscreen litigation campaign over patents acquired from Microchip. Already in suit were 14 such patents, asserted in overlapping sets in district court cases and in an action before the International Trade Commission (ITC) against Amazon, Dell, HP, Lenovo (Motorola Mobility), Microsoft, and Samsung. A new round of filings has added four more former Microchip patents, asserted in various combinations against existing campaign defendants Amazon (6:20-cv-00115), Lenovo (Motorola Mobility) (3:20-cv-01179), Microsoft (6:20-cv-00119), and Samsung (6:20-cv-00121), and against new defendants Apple (6:20-cv-00116), ASUSTek (6:20-cv-00117), LG Electronics (LGE) (6:20-cv-00118), and Sony (6:20-cv-00122)—and a new complaint over those four patents has also been filed with the ITC (337-TA-3435).
February 4, 2020
The Litigation Finance Journal recently reported that Swiss private bank Syz Group is looking to invest in litigation finance, in part due to the “recession-proof” features associated with that asset class. As reported by RPX throughout 2019, litigation finance firms have experienced record fundraising in recent years, with private equity firms and hedge funds—such as Magnetar Capital—seeking opportunities to invest in uncorrelated assets that can withstand, or even perform well in, the next economic downturn.
Access to the full article is currently available to RPX members only. Please contact us if you need further information.
2019 Marketplace Trends: As Private Equity’s Interest in Patent Litigation Grows, a Better-Capitalized Breed of NPEs Has EmergedOctober 12, 2019
Litigation finance firms have experienced record fundraising in recent years, with private equity firms and hedge funds looking for opportunities to invest in uncorrelated assets that can withstand, or even perform well in, the next economic downturn. With large amounts of capital on hand, and therefore fewer concerns about diversifying their investments, multi-strategy funds are proving to be attractive investment partners for standalone litigation funders. Through such partnerships, a new breed of NPEs has emerged—one backed by more copious and patient capital than those of years past. This article, the first in a series covering the evolving sources of capital for NPEs today, takes a look at two private equity firms and a hedge fund backing notable NPE campaigns.
Access to the full article is currently available to RPX members only. Please contact us if you need further information.
Touchscreen Campaign Expands with Ten New Patents Asserted in District Court, as the ITC Institutes an Investigation Against the Same Defendants over the Prior FourJuly 7, 2019
Neodrón Limited has expanded the campaign that it began both in the Western District of Texas and before the International Trade Commission (ITC) in May. The NPE has filed a second set of Western District of Texas suits against prior defendants/respondents Amazon (6:19-cv-00395), Dell (6:19-cv-00396), Lenovo (Motorola Mobility) (6:19-cv-00398), Microsoft (6:19-cv-00399), and Samsung (6:19-cv-00400), while adding HP (6:19-cv-00397) as a defendant for the first time. (Neodron has also filed an amended complaint in a May case against HP Enterprise, naming HP as the defendant in that action instead.) The new raft of complaints adds ten more patents to the four already asserted in the campaign, all of them acquired from Microchip in December 2018. At issue are various computing devices of the defendants that have touchpads or touchscreens.
May 25, 2019
Irish entity Neodrón Limited has become the third to launch a patent litigation campaign in the US over the last six months, joining Data Scape Limited and Solas OLED Limited. Neodrón accuses Amazon (6:19-cv-00317), Dell (6:19-cv-00318), HP Enterprise (HPE) (6:19-cv-00319), Lenovo (6:19-cv-00320), Microsoft (6:19-cv-00321), Motorola Mobility (6:19-cv-00322), and Samsung (6:19-cv-00323), in separate Western District of Texas complaints, of infringing up to four patents generally related to touch sensors and controls through the provision of computing devices, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones with touchpads or touchscreens. One day later, the NPE filed a complaint (337-TA-3389) with the International Trade Commission (ITC) over the same group of patents and against the same seven proposed respondents.