Sisvel Files Slew of Networking Cases, Many Against Defendants in Suit Since Last Summer

May 16, 2020

Sisvel International S.A. (d/b/a Sisvel Group); Sisvel S.p.A.; and 3G Licensing S.A. (collectively, Sisvel)—all subsidiaries of Fineur International S.A.—have sued BBK Electronics (OnePlus) (1:20-cv-00653), CradlePoint (1:20-cv-00649), Dell (1:20-cv-00651), Honeywell (1:20-cv-00652), TCL (1:20-cv-00654), Tesla (1:20-cv-00655), Tinno Mobile (Wiko) (1:20-cv-00658), VeriFone (1:20-cv-00656), and Xirgo Technologies (1:20-cv-00659) in the District of Delaware and BLU Products (1:20-cv-22050), HMD Global (1:20-cv-22051), and Sun Cupid Technology (Noetic) (1:20-cv-22054) in the Southern District of Florida, all over the provision of automobiles and a variety of devices (e.g., adapters, cellular modems, computers, payment terminals, routers, smartphones, vehicle tracking devices, etc.). At issue are the products’ compliance with the 3G and 4G cellular network standards.

The nine asserted patents (7,215,653; 7,319,718; 7,551,625; 7,580,388; 7,869,396; 7,979,070; 8,189,611; 8,600,383; 8,971,279)—originating with either BlackBerry, LG Electronics (LGE), or Nokia—generally relate to various aspects of telecommunication networks, with Sisvel alleging that the patents “relate to technology for cellular communication networks, including variations or generations of cellular communication network technology such as, but not limited to 3G, and 4G”. Each defendant is accused of infringing all nine patents except for TCL (which is accused of infringing all of them except for the ‘070 patent) and BLU Products (which is accused of infringing only the ‘070, ‘396, and ‘279 patents).

Last June, Sisvel launched a litigation campaign that has since hit many of the same defendants sued here, including BLU Products, Dell, Honeywell, Tesla, and Xirgo, as well as AnyDATA and ZTE. Sisvel has since filed multiple amended complaints, to which all the defendants have yet to respond. Each of those suits was filed in the District of Delaware, except the case against ZTE, which was filed in the Northern District of Texas, and the case against BLU Products, which has since been transferred to the Southern District of Florida. In mid-March, u-blox added a complaint to the campaign seeking declaratory judgments of unenforceability of two of Sisvel’s patents (7,433,698; 8,364,196) based on alleged failures by prior owner Nokia to disclose the patents to standards setting organizations, and of failure to offer u-blox (or its customer Xirgo) “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory” (FRAND) licensing terms, in addition to pleading claims for breach of contract and antitrust violations based on that same failure.

Additional background concerning these earlier suits can be read at “Sisvel Expands Networking Campaign by One Defendant but Many More Patents” (July 2019), with a one-page assessment available for download from RPX Insight here.

Founded in 1982 as a spin-off to manage and license a portfolio of television-related patents developed by Italian electronics manufacturer Indesit, Sisvel has evolved into a prominent patent pool administrator. Currently domiciled in Luxembourg with offices in Europe, Asia, and the US, Sisvel has partnered with joint licensors such as Philips, Panasonic, and Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) to offer SEP (i.e., standard essential patent) pools related to technologies including wireless cellular communications, digital audio and video encoding, DSL, and Wi-Fi. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the entity managed an Audio MPEG pool related to the MP3 standard, which it enforced with over 600 civil lawsuits or customs detention requests across Europe. Since at least 2011, Sisvel has also acquired assets outright from operating companies such as Nokia, Panasonic, and Sanyo for assertion and licensing purposes. Sisvel has recently disclosed Fineur International S.A. as its corporate parent.

In December 2018, RPX acquired rights to over 720 worldwide assets from Sisvel, including roughly 500 patents that make up Sisvel’s SEP 802.11 Wi-Fi Joint Licensing Program. Further details about the deal that can be reviewed on RPX Insight here. 5/15, BBK Electronics (OnePlus), CradlePoint, Dell, Honeywell, TCL, Tesla, Tinno Mobile (Wiko), VeriFone, Xirgo Technologies, District of Delaware; 5/15, BLU Products, HMD Global, Sun Cupid Technology (Noetic), Southern District of Florida.