WiLAN’s North Star and Smart Wearable Campaigns Steadily Grow

  • November 23, 2016

Wi-LAN Inc. (WiLAN) subs North Star Innovations Inc. and Smart Wearable Technologies Inc. continue to add new defendants to their respective campaigns. On November 14, North Star filed suit against Integrated Device Technology (IDT) (8:16-cv-02055 ), accusing the company of infringing a group of patents acquired from Freescale. The accused products include various semiconductor memory devices. Also on November 14, Smart Wearable Technologies sued Fitbit (3:16-cv-00077) over a former Barron Associates patent. These latest suits follow WiLAN’s recent announcement of disappointing Q3 earnings.

North Star’s complaint against IDT asserts three patents, all of which the NPE has previously litigated: 5,781,480 (asserted against Cypress Semiconductor in May); 6,093,972 (asserted against Advanced Semiconductor Engineering and Texas Instruments in October); and 6,465,743 (asserted against Texas Instruments last month). The patents issued to Motorola between 1998 and 2002, with estimated priority ranging between 1994 and 1998, and were transferred to North Star in an October 2015 deal with Freescale that reportedly involved over 3,300 patents.

To date, North Star has sued more than 25 companies over patents acquired from Freescale. Defendants include makers of mobile devices and e-readers (Amazon, HTC, Sony), cameras (Canon, GoPro, Nikon), and televisions (Sharp); videoconferencing companies (Polycom and Vidyo); and manufacturers of semiconductors and memory chips (Cypress Semiconductor, UMC, Xilinx). For an assessment of the NPE’s largest litigation campaign, see RPX Insight.

Smart Wearable’s suit against Fitbit, its first new case since launching its campaign in July, asserts a patent (6,997,882) generally related to monitoring a subject based on physiological and six degree-of-freedom (“6-DOF”) data. The ‘882 patent issued in February 2006 to Barron Associates, comprises a single-member family, and has an estimated priority date in December 2001. RPX has published a prior art search report concerning the patent, a copy of which can be accessed here.

As in Smart Wearable’s suits against ASUS, Microsoft, TCL, and Tom Tom, all filed in July 2016, the NPE accuses Fitbit of infringement through provision of fitness trackers. While Smart Wearable’s case against TCL appears to be winding down—the parties recently moved for a stay to allow time to finalize a settlement agreement—ASUS and Microsoft have each filed Rule 12 (b)(6) motions to dismiss (neither of which have yet been heard), and the case against TomTom is open in initial pleadings.

On November 3, WiLAN announced its Q3 2016 earnings, reporting lower revenue and net income compared to the same quarter last year. For details, see “Acacia’s Revenue Soars, and WiLAN’s Slumps, in Q3 2016” (November 2016). RPX periodically reports on the performance and activities of publicly traded NPEs, including WiLAN. The company’s most recent Public PAE Report, covering Q2 2016, can be accessed here.

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