Semiconductor Campaign in Which IV Retains an Interest Sees Early 2020 Second Round

January 24, 2020

On the heels of a dismissal in the first case that it filed in its sole litigation campaign, against Arastu Systems in the Northern District of California, Computer Circuit Operations LLC has added three new suits, one each against Marvell (6:20-cv-00044), Socionext (6:20-cv-00046), and VIA Technologies (6:20-cv-00043) in the Western District of Texas. Targeted is the provision of devices and systems (e.g., processors, microcontrollers, and gateways) that feature certain Double Data Rate (DDR) controllers (e.g., DDR3, DDR4, LPDDR3, LPDDR4, and LPDDR4x controllers), with multiple asserted patents received from Intellectual Ventures LLC (IV), which retains an interest in the outcome of Computer Circuit’s litigation.

In December 2018, two IV affiliates—Intellectual Ventures Assets 110 LLC (IVA 110) and Intellectual Ventures Assets 115 LLC (IVA 115)—assigned batches of patents to Computer Circuit, including those now asserted: three generally related to calibrating semiconductor “skew” (6,480,021; 6,820,234; 7,278,069) and two broadly concerning memory bus arbitration (7,107,386; 7,426,603). The first set comprises three patents from a family of four, issuing between October 2001 and October 2007 and originally developed by a defunct operating company, Acuid. The family was first assigned to IV in March 2008. The second set comprises a family with original development work done by Believe, Inc., with an initial assignment to an IV affiliate in April 2004, following issue dates in September 2006 and 2008, respectively. All five asserted patents were among the 18 US assets (together with foreign counterparts) transferred to Computer Circuit via IVA 115; four other US patents (together with foreign counterparts) were acquired through IVA 110.

In its prior Northern District of California case, Computer Circuit—formed in New York state on December 7, 2018, providing an address at the law offices of attorney Daniel Hymowitz—disclosed five entities having an interest in the outcome of the litigation: four IV affiliates (IVA 110, IVA 115, Invention Investment Fund I LP, and Invention Investment Fund II LP) and Hymowitz himself. Hymowitz indicates that he has been with his law firm (Hymowitz Law Group, PLLC) since 2007.

Computer Circuit has asserted the ‘234, ‘386, ‘069, and ‘603 patents against Arastu and VIA Technologies, adding a fifth asserted patent (the ‘021 patent) against the other two defendants. The Arastu case ran from June 2019 through January 21, 2020, when it was dismissed with prejudice (after the filing of an answer).

As discussed in RPX’s Q4 in Review blog post, the steady outflow of patents from IV persisted throughout 2019, resulting in dozens of new NPE litigation campaigns asserting IV divestitures, including Computer Circuit’s. As recently reported by RPX, IV shows no signs of tightening up the spigot; indeed, the assignment of a tranche of over 2,000 assets to a web of Georgia NPEs has recently come to light, flowing out of IV through similarly named (i.e., Intellectual Ventures Assets XX LLC) “launchpad” entities. RPX has published a comprehensive, members-only report identifying the top NPE assignees of IV divestitures over the past four years and briefly summarizing campaigns resulting from notable transactions. The most recent version of that report can be downloaded from RPX Insight here.

Computer Circuit’s suits have been assigned to District Judge Alan D. Albright. Since his appointment to the federal bench in late 2018, the number of patent cases in the Western District of Texas has seen a steady rise. Indeed, as illustrated in that same Q4 in Review blog post, Judge Albright’s district has risen to the second most popular district for NPE litigation (ahead of the Eastern District of Texas) and the third most popular district for all patent cases. A one-page assessment of this campaign can be downloaded from RPX Insight here. 1/22, Western District of Texas.