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May 17, 2019
Patent Market, Patent Watch
As reported repeatedly as the assignment of its patents have been recorded with the USPTO and as compiled in a comprehensive report on RPX Insight, Intellectual Ventures LLC (IV) has accelerated its divestiture of patent portfolios over the past couple of years. The transacted patents have flowed to various NPEs, some of them already well known to litigation and some that appear to be new to patent monetization. Other IV patents have been picked up by operating companies. Whatever their planned destinations, currently available USPTO assignment records suggest that the flow of patents, some for possible assertion in litigation, will not dry up any time soon.
Avanci and Partners Sued in US over OEM-Only Automotive Licensing Strategy as Related Suits Proceed in Europe
May 17, 2019
Automotive, Top Insight
Recent months have seen the Internet of Things (IoT) licensing platform Avanci, LLC announce license agreements with multiple automotive OEMs, including Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen, to its portfolio of standard essential patents (SEPs) covering cellular technologies. However, despite Avanci’s traction with those OEMs, the company has now begun to see pushback at the supplier level. On May 10, automotive component supplier Continental filed a declaratory judgment (DJ) complaint in the Northern District of California against Avanci and several of the patent owners participating in its licensing program, alleging that by refusing to offer fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licenses to suppliers, they have committed various antitrust violations and breached their contractual FRAND obligations, further seeking equitable relief (5:19-cv-02520). The dispute echoes similar licensing battles that continue to play out in European courts, including litigation involving patent owners Nokia and Broadcom, respectively, and OEM Daimler—which does not appear to have a relationship with Avanci—filed in German courts and before the European Commission. Similar antitrust claims have also been raised in a US DJ action recently filed by u-blox against InterDigital, Inc., which has since seen filings from the US government that reflect a recent shift in antitrust enforcement policy.
May 17, 2019
Consumer Electronics and PCs, Mobile Communications and Devices, New Patent Litigation
Texas monetization firm Endpoint IP LLC has just kicked off two new litigation campaigns. On May 16, the firm’s affiliate Aido LLC sued Panasonic (1:19-cv-00916) over the infringement of two video processing patents that the plaintiff acquired in December from an affiliate of Intellectual Ventures LLC (IV)—two months after Aido’s sister NPE, Aido Mobility LLC, sued Bank of America over another set of former IV patents. Aido’s new litigation was filed the same day as another Endpoint affiliate, Tactus Technologies LLC, launched a campaign of its own, targeting the Pattern Lock feature offered by Android mobile devices from LG Electronics (3:19-cv-01182) and ZTE (3:19-cv-01184).
May 15, 2019
Networking, New Patent Litigation
Commstech LLC, a Texas entity under the management of Hao Ni of Ni, Wang and Massand PLLC, received a portfolio of nine US patents from Harris Corporation last fall. The NPE has now asserted six of those patents in a new Western District of Texas suit against Cisco (6:19-cv-00296). The patents generally relate to network traffic management and memory management, with infringement allegations focused on Cisco’s provision of router operating systems, certain network devices running them, and related products.
May 14, 2019
E-Commerce and Software, Media Content and Distribution, New Patent Litigation
DRM Vectors, LLC has added a case against Rakuten (d/b/a Overdrive) (1:19-cv-00878) to the campaign that it began last month with suits asserting the same patent against Alphabet (Google), Barnes & Noble, Lulu Enterprises, Microsoft, and Oracle. The patent broadly concerns a digital rights management (DRM) system that provides content from an “order server” and verifies content access privileges using an authentication server. Overdrive is accused of infringement through the exercise of DRM within its Media Console.
May 12, 2019
Networking, Patent Market, Patent Watch
In March 2019, Virtual Watchdog Solutions, LLC, an entity created in Delaware in June 2018, assigned to Longhorn HD LLC 14 patents that it had received from several affiliates of Intellectual Ventures LLC (IV) last July. The patents relate to various aspects of networking: gateways, network security, mobile-VPNs, failure detection, etc., sourced prior to acquisition by IV from multiple different sources, including IP Dynamics, Ensim, OKI Electric, SteelCloud, Xerox, and individual inventors. Longhorn HD wasted little time asserting the first of these assets in litigation, suing Fortinet (2:19-cv-00124) in the Eastern District of Texas over five of them in mid-April. The new campaign is Longhorn HD’s second to date.
May 11, 2019
Media Content and Distribution, New Patent Litigation
Kannuu Pty Ltd., an Australian company, has filed suit against various subsidiaries of Samsung (1:19-cv-04297) in the Southern District of New York over three patents from a seven-member family generally related to selecting an item from a database, as well as a fourth patent not related by prosecution but of similar subject matter. The complaint targets the provision of certain search functionality on various smart TVs and Blu-ray DVD players. Kannuu also pleads breach of a nondisclosure agreement between the parties, based on the recitation of a history of interactions between the companies, beginning in 2012.
In Wake of Global Resolution with Samsung, Xperi Chip Fabrication and Packing Campaign Alive with New Suit
May 11, 2019
New Patent Litigation, Semiconductors
Invensas Corporation and Tessera Advanced Technologies, Inc. (TATI), both subsidiaries of publicly traded Xperi Corporation, have together filed suit in the District of Delaware against NVIDIA (1:19-cv-00861), alleging infringement of five patents generally related to semiconductor fabrication and packaging. The new complaint targets the provision of a large number of semiconductor products, including 40nm Fermi GPUs, 28nm Kepler GPUs, 28nm Maxwell GPUs, 16nm Pascal GPUs, 28nm Tegra K1 systems-on-chips (SoCs) (which allegedly incorporate 28nm Kepler GPUs), 20nm Tegra X1 SoCs (which allegedly incorporate 20nm Maxwell GPUs), and Tesla GPUs. Xperi’s last forays into litigation were global efforts, with a worldwide set of disputes against Broadcom ending in 2017 and a worldwide set of disputes against Samsung ending this past December.
Judge Alsup Orders Unsealing of Fortress-Uniloc Licensing Info in Apple Suit, Seeking to “Police” the “Litigation Gimmick” of “Bloated” Royalty Demands
May 10, 2019
Mobile Communications and Devices, Top Insight
Late last year, a battle over standing unfolded in litigation between Apple and Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited (Uniloc). Apple had moved to dismiss four of the NPE’s cases against it after learning of a complex set of agreements between Uniloc and Fortress Investment Group LLC, asserting that Uniloc’s purported “defaults” under those agreements had deprived it of standing by shifting certain rights in the asserted patents to Fortress. District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California denied that motion in January, and Apple’s motion for reconsideration of that order remains pending. Now, a related, parallel dispute over confidentiality has come to a head: Judge Alsup has ruled, for the second time, that Uniloc has sought to withhold too much information about its agreements with Fortress, its prior licenses, and other related documents, declining to reconsider his earlier denial of the NPE’s first request to seal and rejecting its attempt to seek a more limited set of redactions. Judge Alsup cited the inherent public interest in learning information on patent ownership, licensing, and related standing issues as well as Uniloc’s failure to seek more limited relief in the first instance.
NPE Relaunches Campaign with Two Patents Arising from Reissue Applications Filed after Earlier IPR Invalidations
May 10, 2019
Automotive, New Patent Litigation
In February of this year, the USPTO issued to Wildcat Licensing WI LLC two patents that the NPE obtained based on reissue applications filed after their earlier predecessors were invalidated through inter partes review (IPR). Wildcat Licensing WI began litigating those prior patents in May 2013 in a campaign that appeared to close in December 2016 when the Federal Circuit affirmed the cancellation of all challenged claims through two IPRs brought by district court defendant Johnson Controls. That closure, however, has proved only temporary; Wildcat Licensing WI has now rebooted its campaign, filing suit against BMW (1:19-cv-00834), Faurecia (1:19-cv-00839), Fiat Chrysler (FCA US, FCA Italy) (1:19-cv-00840), Ford (1:19-cv-00842), GM (1:19-cv-00843), Lear (1:19-cv-00845), Magna International (1:19-cv-00846), and TATA (Jaguar Land Rover) (1:19-cv-00844), and Volkswagen (Audi) (1:19-cv-00833). The two asserted reissue patents are described as “encompass[ing] core technology in the field of assembling articles of manufacture”; infringement allegations focus on the provision of vehicles and automotive components manufactured using methods that “perform error free fastening or error-proofing automated assembly”.