Dominion’s Sovereign Peak Ventures Pummels LG Electronics with More Than Two Dozen Former Panasonic Patents

April 19, 2020

Three of the four “peak ventures” of Texas monetization firm Dominion Harbor Enterprises, LLC, those with already active campaigns, have filed additional litigation in the first couple of weeks of April, with Sovereign Peak Ventures, LLC (SPV) hitting LG Electronics (LGE) (2:20-cv-00107, 2:20-cv-00108, 2:20-cv-00109) over patents from a large portfolio of former Panasonic assets. That litigation follows new suits from Monument Peak Ventures, LLC (MPV), hitting Hitachi over patents from a large portfolio of former Kodak assets, and Vista Peak Ventures LLC (VPV), hitting various defendants held by the Chinese Government (Nanjing, TPV) over patents from a large portfolio of former NEC assets. Dominion received each of these portfolios from Intellectual Ventures LLC (IV), with which the firm has had a deepening relationship. Dominion’s fourth “peak venture”, Liberty Peak Ventures, LLC (LPV), in receipt of a large portfolio of former American Express patents, has yet to assert any of those patents in litigation.

In the -107 case, SPV asserts seven patents in two groups, the first (7,133,658; 9,042,457; 9,414,059) generally related to image processing and/or encoding/decoding, and the second (8,374,152; 8,442,569; 8,467,723; 8,792,453) to wireless communications. The ‘658 patent is asserted against certain LGE phones with augmented reality features such as those offered by the included “AR Sticker” app; the ‘152 and ‘569 patents, against LTE-enabled phones “that are configured to utilize infringing licensed assisted access (LAA) modems on wireless networks”; the ‘723 and ‘453 patents, against LTE-enabled phones that are “configured to perform inter-RAT handovers”; and the ‘457 and ‘059 patents, against phones and webOS TVs with certain features related to video encoding, including its use of Open CL 2.0 (a computing library here allegedly used for video encoding) and its support of H.265 (HEVC).

In the -108 case, SPV hits LGE with five patents generally related to a wireless charging apparatus (9,620,282) or mobile devices that support both wireless charging and near-field communications (NFC) (9,935,481; 9,991,735; 10,044,225; 10,291,069). The patents are asserted against certain smartphones that support Qi wireless charging and/or NFC.

In the -109 case, six patents are asserted, again in two groups, the first (8,902,871; 9,357,441; 10,039,144) broadly concerning wireless communications and the second (9,431,017; 9,747,903; 10,102,861), using voice input to control multiple devices within the same household. With the ‘871, ‘441, and ‘144 patents, SPV targets devices supporting Wi-Fi Direct, including phones (such as the LG G7 ThinQ), TVs (such as the LG 65” G 4K OLED TV), tablets (such as the LG G Pad F2 8.0), and “home entertainment equipment” (such as the “LG Laser Smart Home Theater Projector, HF80JA”). The ‘017, ‘903, and ‘861 patents are asserted against TVs that incorporate voice assistant software (Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant) as used to control smart home devices (such as smart lights, smart plugs, smart locks, and smart thermostats) arranged in “groups” (rooms) within the same household; the accused TVs include numerous specific models sold under LGE’s “AI ThinQ” brand.

SPV’s new suits against LGE follow the close of the NPE’s first litigation campaign, begun in December 2018 and targeting several defendants, including Anker Innovations, Feit Electric, LiFi Labs, and SengLED, over their provision of LED light bulbs capable of adjusting their output to produce different colors and/or different temperatures of white light. The last case in that campaign closed in October 2019. According to Dominion, the Panasonic portfolio covers a range of technologies, including “breakthrough innovations essential to the internet of things, mobile communications, LED, [Wi-Fi], and cloud computing industries, among others”. In its press release announcing the buy, Dominion stated that the portfolio will be marketed by SPV “to the world’s largest technology and manufacturing companies, as well as smaller enterprises, through a series of channels unique to the IP monetization sector”.

Dominion Harbor (as Dominion Harbor Enterprises and in its earlier incarnation, Dominion Harbor Group, LLC) was cofounded by former IP Navigation Group, LLC (d/b/a IPNav) cofounder and former CEO David Pridham. (Dominion Harbor Group was formed in Texas in October 2013; around March 2017, the Group appears to have shifted operations to the Enterprises entity, which was formed in Texas in January 2016 with Pridham as its managing member.) In 2017 and earlier, the firm picked up relatively small portfolios for assertion through entities formed by its litigation arm Monument Patent Holdings, LLC, a growing number of those acquisitions from IV. However, as previously reported, Dominion has more recently shifted toward larger portfolio acquisitions, deepening its relationship with IV and actually returning some of its smaller-sized portfolios to their prior owners.

Further details concerning MPV’s new suit against Hitachi over former Kodak assets and VPV’s new cases against the companies held by the Chinese Government over former NEC assets can be read at “Dominion’s Monument Peak Ventures Picks Up More Patents, Launches a Fifth Litigation Campaign” (April 2020). 4/14, Eastern District of Texas.