Backed by Third-Party Lit Funder, New Delaware Plaintiff Sues Cadence

  • March 8, 2023
  • Category: New Patent Litigation, TPLF
    Market Sector: Semiconductors
    Tag: TPLF

This past January, Delaware entity Semiconductor Design Technologies LLC received half a dozen US patents from Ricoh, two of which have now appeared in litigation against Cadence Design Systems (5:23-v-01001). Cadence is accused of infringement through the provision of semiconductor design software products, including the Stratus High-Level Synthesis platform. At issue are features for “verifying a graphically edited specification of a semiconductor integrated circuit” or “generating an RTL description from a behavioral description and calculating the latency of blocks in the behavioral description that correspond to states in the RTL description”. The plaintiff’s disclosures in connection with the Northern District of California suit reveal its backing by a prominent litigation funder.

Among the “listed persons, associations of persons, firms, partnerships, corporations (including, but not limited to, parent corporations), or other entities (i) have a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding, or (ii) have a non-financial interest in that subject matter or in a party that could be substantially affected by the outcome of this proceeding”, per the plaintiff’s disclosure statement, is Burford Capital, identified as a “capital provider” with a financial interest in the outcome. Burford is a prominent publicly traded litigation finance firm, formed in 2009 by current CEO Christopher Bogart and current CIO (“chief investment officer”) Jonathan Molot. Bogart is a veteran of the financial and cable industries, while Molot—also a law professor at Georgetown University—has a history of advising investment and insurance firms concerning “litigation risk transfers where lawsuits threaten to interfere with M&A and private equity deals”.

Burford Capital made headlines last week when one of its clients, the food distributor Sysco, accused the firm of preventing it from executing settlements—and forcing Sysco to continue litigating against many of its key suppliers. RPX coverage is available at “Burford Capital Accused of Blocking Settlements in Funded Litigation” (March 2023).

Semiconductor Design Technologies was formed in Delaware on December 20, 2022, with little to no information on its management or personnel publicly available. As noted, in January 2023, Ricoh assigned the plaintiff six issued US patents, together with related applications and foreign assets in China and Japan. Those assets appear to be the sum total of Semiconductor Design’s portfolio, at least according to currently available USPTO records, and this litigation appears to be the entity’s first. The plaintiff does not plead willfulness or seek an injunction.

Kramer Alberti Lim & Tonkovich LLP filed the complaint on Semiconductor Design’s behalf. The case has been initially assigned to Magistrate Judge Virginia K. DeMarchi. 3/6, Northern District of California.


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