2BCom’s Wireless Communications Campaign Hits D-Link, Kia, and TP-Link

April 10, 2020

2BCom LLC has followed up its first lawsuit, filed against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA US, Chrysler) in the Eastern District of Michigan, with three additional cases, this time filed in the Central District of California, also accusing D-Link (8:20-cv-00686), Kia Motors (8:20-cv-00676), and TP-Link (8:20-cv-00708) of infringing patents from among those received from Toshiba last fall. Kia Motors is alleged to infringe four of those patents through the provision of the Kia UVO smartphone app over features related to hybrid/electric battery monitoring and certain infotainment systems installed in Kia-branded vehicles, “including the Kia Bluetooth system”, which is allegedly sold “in all models of Kia vehicles” and is targeted over various Bluetooth pairing and connectivity features. D-Link is accused of infringing four patents through certain Wi-Fi routers, with various features related to beamforming and QoS (Quality of Service) at issue; while TP-Link is alleged to infringe five patents through Wi-Fi routers offering similar features, as well as through certain Bluetooth music receivers.

The plaintiff was formed in Delaware on September 30, 2019. 2BCom indicates on its public website that it is “an IP licensing company specializing in wireless technologies, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth” with a portfolio that includes “patents from the United States, Europe and Asia”. John Nix is identified as the president of “2BCom Wireless Technologies”. He is described as a “telecommunications and internet entrepreneur” and as “an inventor of approximately 50 patents and approximately 25 additional pending U.S. and international patent applications”.

A search of USPTO records does identify multiple US patents naming Nix (as John A. Nix) as an inventor, several of which are now held by Nix in his individual capacity; by his IP development company M2M and IoT Technologies, LLC (formed in Illinois in April 2017); by NPE Network-1 Technologies, Inc., which acquired a group of Nix patents from M2M and IoT Technologies in late 2017 (see details here); and by several operating companies, including Coca-Cola (for which Nix reports having worked as an engineer from 1992-1995), Google, Huawei, and Microsoft. Nix identifies himself as having been the founder and CEO of Vobal Technologies, LLC, a provider of GSM and VoIP services to commercial shipping companies, since January 2009. Vobal once held patents on which Nix is a named inventor, subsequently assigning them to Nix. Other Nix patents appear still to be held by Nix’s prior company, Go2Call Software.

2BCom began filing litigation this past January, hitting Fiat Chrysler’s infotainment systems over a subset of the 27 patents it received from Toshiba in November 2019: 6,831,444 (generally related to a battery-powered communication device that can display remaining battery charge or provide a notification when remaining power reaches a specified level); 6,885,643 (to transferring data between “communicating entities” on a wireless network); 6,928,166 (to authenticating a wireless communications request from a device based on “authentication information” comprising a “PIN code and a unique ID”); 7,127,210 (to a wireless unit that can be paired with, i.e., “is connectable to”, a first and a second device and that only connects to one of the devices at a time); and 7,184,707 (to establishing and disconnecting connections between a “communication device” and “a target communication terminal”).

The ‘444, ‘166, ‘210, and ‘707 patents are asserted against analogous Kia systems (and related smartphone apps), with the ‘643 and ‘166 patents also at issue against D-Link, together with two additional former Toshiba patents: 7,039,445 (generally related to connecting devices in a determined “range”); and 7,460,477 (to wirelessly transmitting data from one device to another). The ‘643, ‘166, ‘445, ‘210, and ‘477 patents are at issue against TP-Link.

Fiat Chrysler has been granted an extension of the deadline to respond to the complaint filed against it to May 20, 2020. In its new cases, 2BCom discloses no nonparties having an interest in the outcome of the litigation. A one-page assessment of this campaign can be downloaded from RPX Insight here. 4/7, Kia, 4/8, D-Link, 4/10, TP-Link, Central District of California.