Inductor Patent Suit Against Apple Gets New Plaintiff Owned by Native American Tribe, Transferred from Delaware to California

September 22, 2017

A Delaware suit against Apple (1:17-cv-00223) has been transferred to California (3:17-cv-05457) following the substitution of a new plaintiff controlled by a Native American tribe. On August 17, original plaintiff Prowire LLC assigned the asserted inductor patent and a Taiwanese counterpart to the North Dakota-based MEC Resources, LLC, which replaced Prowire as the plaintiff later that month. District Judge Mark A. Kearney then granted Apple’s motion to transfer the case on convenience grounds on September 15. While Judge Kearney’s transfer order describes MEC Resources as a North Dakota citizen, the entity is in fact registered as a foreign LLC, as it is owned and operated by the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, known officially as the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation, North Dakota. The assignment of Prowire’s patent to MEC Resources came shortly before the announcement of a controversial patent licensing strategy by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, which has acquired patents from Allergan and SRC Labs and licensed them back to their original owners in order to shield the assets from inter partes review (IPR) through the tribe’s sovereign immunity.

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