New Empire IP Entity Targets OS and Biometric Encryption Products with Seemingly Late Priority Patents
- February 28, 2013
Maz Encryption Technologies, a new Empire IP enforcement entity, filed seven separate suits against Apple, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, RIM, and Toshiba alleging that the defendants’ computing system products that include file-level encryption and/or biometric scanners infringe one or two of three in-suit patents (6,135,681, 7,096,358 and 8,359,476) related to encryption techniques. All three of the related patents claim earliest priority to an application filed in May 1998. Empire IP acquired the patents (along with two others) from Maz Technologies (a former operating company), in October 2012. A notice of allowance for the ’476 patent was issued in September 2012 which suggests the new issuance prompted the acquisition by Empire. The two earlier patents ( ’681 and ’358) were the subject of suits filed by the previous owner, which appears to have been a developer of biometric encryption products. Five years ago, Maz Technologies asserted both patents against Microsoft. The suit was dismissed six months later. In an earlier suit, filed in 2002, Maz asserted the ’681 patent against a hard-drive computing system encryption competitor, PC Dynamics. That suit provoked wrath from the tech community including public statements challenging the validity of the patent by prominent inventors. One, a former AT&T research scientist, said, “Transparent, automatic file encryption has been widely known and published – even taught to students – for at least a decade. In fact, I described many of the techniques claimed in this patent in a published paper on the CFS encrypting file system back in 1993 – five years ahead of the MAZ patent application.” An ex-parte reexamination of the ’681 patent filed in 2003 resulted in cancellation of all of the original claims and allowance of new claims 31-38. In 2/25, 1:13cv00299, 1:13cv00300, 1:13cv00301, 1:13cv00303, 1:13cv00304, 1:13cv00305, 1:13cv00306.