American Patents Files a Fresh Wave of Suits in Wireless Connectivity Campaign

June 25, 2021

American Patents LLC has filed a round of new cases in its only active litigation campaign, suing Continental (6:21-cv-00635), Newell Brands (BRK Brands) (6:21-cv-00636), Sierra Wireless (6:21-cv-00637), Xerox (6:21-cv-00638), and Zebra Technologies (6:21-cv-00639), all in the Western District of Texas. The plaintiff asserts four patents, generally related to interactions between smart devices and communication networks, with infringement allegations targeting the provision of a wide variety of devices (e.g., modules, routers, telematics solutions, transceivers, vehicle-mounted computers, etc.) that support wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi and/or cellular).

The patents-in-suit (6,847,803; 7,088,782; 7,310,304; 7,706,458), asserted against all defendants except for Continental (which is accused of infringing only the ‘782, ‘304, and ‘458 patents), issued between January 2005 and April 2010 and have an estimated priority date in either February 1999 (the ‘803 patent) or April 2001 (the ‘782, ‘304, and ‘458 patents). They are among 11 that have been asserted throughout the campaign, which American Patents acquired in a portfolio of 35 assets (including a number of foreign counterparts in Asia and Europe) from Intellectual Ventures LLC (IV) through separate June 2018 assignments.

The original development work for the patents-in-campaign was conducted at AT&T Mobility (7,373,655; 7,934,090), BAE Systems (the ‘304 patent), Georgia Institute of Technology (the ‘782 and ‘458 patents), International Game Technology (IGT) (8,668,584; 9,116,543; 9,606,674), Nokia (the ‘803 patent), or Oracle (Sun Microsystems) (6,004,049; 6,301,626).

American Patents was formed as “Actulus Innovations LLC” in Texas in April 2018, changing its name just one month later; Jon Rowan, a Texas patent attorney, is identified as its manager. Texas public records also identify Rowan as the manager of several other litigating NPEs: Dynamic Hosting Company LLC, which litigated two patents originating with Connect One (a fabless semiconductor company) against more than 30 defendants from 2014 through 2015; Liberty Patents LLC, which has launched two litigation campaigns to date, targeting various computing devices in one and clock generators in the other; Plectrum LLC, which ran a networking campaign in 2017 that hit 16 companies over patents acquired from HP Enterprise; Panther Innovations LLC, which has launched multiple litigation campaigns targeting network optimization features and network activity monitoring platforms; and Snyders Heart Valve LLC, which has an ongoing medical devices campaign.

American Patents began this campaign, the first of three, in September 2018. To date, a majority of the 44 defendants have been dismissed with prejudice (in light of settlement). Only three other suits, each filed in 2020, remain active: jointly against AirTies, Altice (Cequel Communications), Cablevision (CSC Holdings), Charter Communications (Spectrum), Commscope (ARRIS), and Sagemcom, with each defendant having been dismissed except for AirTies and Charter Communications; jointly against Compal (Arcadyan Technology) and DISH Network, the case having entered discovery; and against Synology, which filed an answer in June 2021. For further background concerning American Patents and its three litigation campaigns, see “American Patents Expands Mobile Devices Campaign for Third Straight Year” (August 2020).

The new Western District of Texas cases have been assigned to District Judge Alan D. Albright. A one-page assessment of this campaign can be downloaded from RPX Insight here. 6/21, Western District of Texas.