In New Campaign, Bartonfalls Asserts Channel Changing Patent with Familiar Named Inventor

October 13, 2016

Another apparent affiliate of IP Edge LLC, Bartonfalls LLC, has initiated a litigation campaign with a flurry of lawsuits against Advance Publications, Bloomberg, CBS, Comcast (NBC), Consumers Union of United States, Discovery Communications, Disney (ABC), Forbes, Meredith (Allrecipes.com), New York Times, Scripps Networks Interactive, Time Warner (TBS), Viacom, and Ziff-Davis. The new complaints assert a single patent (7,917,922), which relates generally to automatically changing the channel on a television. Bartonfalls accuses the defendants of infringement through mechanisms for automatically changing channels or programs in video platforms available on their websites. For example, the NPE alleges that Viacom infringes when the video player on the MTV website switches from, e.g., Rihanna’s live performance of “Stay / Love on the Brain / Diamonds” to The Chainsmokers’s live performance of “Closer”.

Bartonfalls pleads receipt of the ‘922 patent in a June 10, 2016 assignment, not yet recorded with the USPTO, from Videa, L.L.C., a Michigan entity formed in July 2001 by one of the inventors named on the ‘922 patent, Barry H. Schwab. The other named inventor is John G. Posa, a Michigan patent attorney, currently a partner at Dinsmore in Ann Arbor. The other two, subsequently issuing patents in the ‘922 patent’s family (8,769,561; 9,094,694) have not yet been litigated; it is unclear whether they were part of the June transaction with Videa.

Schwab is a named inventor on multiple issued US patents, several of which have been asserted in litigation. In 2012, Schwab founded Hawk Technology Systems LLC, which days later launched what would become a truly sprawling campaign, with cases filed in a majority of US states against nearly 175 defendants, principally asserting a video monitoring and conversion patent (RE43,462) that issued with named inventors Schwab and Kinya Washino. The most recent cases in the Hawk Technology campaign were filed in mid-September, against Goodwill Industries of Mississippi (3:16-cv-00729), Natchez Casino and Premier Gaming Group (5:16-cv-00080), and The Laurel School District (2:16-cv-00145). The ‘462 patent is a reissue of another patent (5,625,410) that yet another entity, Multi-Format, Inc., co-founded in New Jersey by Schwab and Washino, asserted in an earlier campaign that hit Apple, Dell, HP, Motorola Mobility, and TiVo.

Schwab and Posa are also named inventors on a family of three patents (6,526,219; 6,574,416; 8,150,239) generally related to indexing videos by using a picture. Those patents were asserted by InMotion Imagery Technology, LLC in an Eastern District of Texas campaign stretching from March 2010 to November 2015, hitting nearly 100 defendants. InMotion was formed in Texas in November 2009, first as a subsidiary of Mayan Innovations Management, LLC and later becoming a subsidiary of IntelleQ Holdings, LLC. Both are Georgia entities controlled by Michael W. McLaughlin, the president and CEO of IP Investments Group, LLC (d/b/a IPinvestments Group), a patent monetization firm and patent broker based in Atlanta.

In March 2012, Schwab also formed VOIT Technologies, LLC in Florida. Three days later, he assigned one of his patents (6,226,412), which generally relates to product tracking in an e-commerce platform and belongs to a family of six, to the new entity, asserting it on September 9, 2016 in litigation targeting the websites of Drucker Labs (4:16-cv-00695) and South Texas Tack (1:16-cv-01050). The inventorship of one of the patents (7,418,474) related to the ‘412 patent was the subject of Michigan litigation. Ronald Thomas entered into a set of business relationships with Schwab, later contending that Schwab failed to assign certain patents, including the ‘474 patent, to Thomas, as promised. The case was disposed of on summary judgment, largely in Schwab’s favor, including on the inventorship issue. In January 2010, Schwab also formed Grid Technology, LLC in Michigan, but no patent assignments or litigation seem to have followed. Multiple patents issuing with Schwab as named inventor are now owned by Rateze Remote Mgmt. L.L.C., a Delaware entity formed in January 2008 with unknown management, which has acquired rights in many other patents but does not appear to have filed litigation.

Bartonfalls was formed in Texas on August 31, 2016. Its managing member is Lori LaPray, who appears to be a paralegal at Stoddard & Welsh, PLLC, a Texas law firm, and whose apparent husband, Brandon LaPray, used to work at Austin Hansley, representing eDekka LLC in some of the cases that that IP Edge NPE filed as part of its extensive campaign.

Bartonfalls, 10/11, Advance Publications 2:16-cv-01134, Bloomberg 2:16-cv-01128, CBS 2:16-cv-01129, Comcast (NBC) 2:16-cv-01136, Consumers Union of United States 2:16-cv-01131, Discovery Communications 2:16-cv-01139, Disney (ABC) 2:16-cv-01126, Forbes 2:16-cv-01133, Meredith (Allrecipes.com) 2:16-cv-01127, New York Times 2:16-cv-01138, Scripps Networks Interactive 2:16-cv-01135, Time Warner (TBS) 2:16-cv-01130, Viacom 2:16-cv-01137, Ziff-Davis 2:16-cv-01139, Eastern District of Texas.

VOIT Technologies, 9/9, Drucker Labs, Eastern District of Texas; 9/9, South Texas Tack; Western District of Texas.

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