Acacia Kicks Off Third 2020 Campaign, With a Major Venue Ruling and a Disputed Portfolio Marking Other Efforts

  • February 14, 2020
  • Category: New Patent Litigation
    Market Sector: Semiconductors

Semiconductor Connections LLC, a subsidiary of publicly traded NPE Acacia Research Corporation, has filed its first litigation, asserting a single patent, generally related to semiconductor fabrication, against TSMC (6:20-cv-00109) in a new Western District of Texas complaint. The plaintiff pleads that it is the exclusive licensee of the patent-in-suit, the most recent owner of which is identified in currently available USPTO assignment records as German research institution Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. At issue is TSMC’s provision of certain semiconductor devices, including the “Xilinx Virtex-7 2000T and H580T FPGAs manufactured by TSMC, and all TSMC semiconductor devices, integrated circuits, and products manufactured at the 28nm technology nodes or other process nodes in the same or similar manner”.

Acacia formed Semiconductor Connections on January 17, 2020, the first entity that it appears to have created in Texas in several years. As extensively reported by RPX, Acacia has been undergoing an uptick in litigation activity since a leadership change in response to a 2018 proxy campaign by activist investors Sidus Investment Management and BLR Partners. The leadership was overhauled, funding was secured, and acquisitions have picked up—with Acacia’s litigation ramping up as well. Further background concerning this transformation can be read at “With Fresh Capital and Patents on Hand, Acacia Looks Ready to Kick Off 2020 with New Litigation” (December 2019).

Since undergoing those changes, Acacia has been much in the news. For a much-anticipated ruling on venue, occurring in an Eastern District of Texas case brought by an Acacia subsidiary against Alphabet (Google), see “Google Servers Do Not Establish Venue, Federal Circuit Holds—Rejecting Another Gilstrap Venue Rule” (February 2020). For a new Acacia campaign embroiled in breach of contract claims brought by another NPE, see “Acacia Asserts Patents from Disputed Networking Portfolio in First 2020 Campaign” (January 2020). And, for the second of three new 2020 campaigns already launched, with less turbulence surrounding it, see “Acacia Sub Targets Image Sensors in New Campaign” (February 2020).

Comprising a family of one, the asserted patent (6,548,391) originated with Fraunhofer, issuing in April 2003 with an estimated priority date in May 1999, based on the filing dates of foreign applications. This new case appears to be first time that it has been litigated. 2/11, Western District of Texas.

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