Fortress Deal Allegedly Running Portfolio Rights Through a “Wood-Chipper” Spawns Both a Standing Fight and a Wave of Refiling

November 16, 2018

In May 2018, Australian NPE Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited (Uniloc) assigned more than 600 US patent assets, as well as a number of foreign counterparts—seemingly the bulk of its portfolio—to Fortress Investment Group LLC subsidiary Uniloc 2017 LLC, leading to an avalanche of new litigation. This deal represented the deepening of an existing relationship between the two parties, as a December 2014 security agreement between Uniloc and Fortress indicates that the latter has been funding the former’s litigation for years. That security agreement has now become the focus of a standing dispute in litigation filed by Uniloc prior to its May deal with Fortress. In an October motion to dismiss, defendant Apple has argued that by relinquishing certain licensing rights under the security agreement, and other related agreements, Uniloc’s former patent-holding subsidiary Uniloc Luxembourg S.à r.l. (f/k/a Uniloc Luxembourg S.A.) and its purported successor-in-interest, Uniloc 2017, were deprived of constitutional standing. Uniloc has just fired back, arguing in a November 12 opposition that the rights transferred in the security agreement did not deprive Uniloc Luxembourg of standing under Federal Circuit law. Meanwhile, Fortress has apparently reconsidered the posture of the cases that it has been filing since the May deal with Uniloc, refiling late last week over 40 of those suits with only Uniloc 2017 as the named plaintiff against defendants that include Alphabet (Google), Apple, AT&T, Barnes & Noble, BlackBerry, Cardo Systems, Cisco, Disney (ABC, ESPN), Hulu, Huawei, LG Electronics, Samsung, Terrano, Verizon, and ZTE.

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