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Each week, RPX publishes the latest news on patent litigation and market trends. Never miss a headline. Get them delivered right to your inbox.
We’re Back, Says Acacia
March 15, 2019
Patent Market, Patent Watch
Last August, Acacia Research Corporation—which had not launched any new US litigation campaigns since mid-2015—underwent a sweeping leadership change. Since then, it has revived a number of its litigation campaigns, and it has also begun rebuilding its IP licensing team, said director Alfred J. Tobia Jr. in a recent earnings call covering Q4 2018 results. According to Acacia, that team is expected to “research and process” $20M of new IP capital expenditure in 2019.
An Unfazed Fortress Hits Microsoft Twice More
March 15, 2019
Media Content and Distribution, Mobile Communications and Devices, New Patent Litigation
Uniloc 2017 LLC, a subsidiary of Fortress Investment Group LLC, has continued to file new cases, even as suits brought by Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited, the prior owner of the asserted patents, work their way through a standing fight arising out of a complicated set of agreements between Uniloc and Fortress. Uniloc 2017 has hit a familiar target, Microsoft, twice in March already (8.19-cv-00428, 8.19-cv-00477). The first of those cases focus on Microsoft’s provision of the LTE-enabled model of its Surface Pro tablet, which the complaint alleges includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE modem that supports HSUPA/HSUPA+ cellular connectivity; the second, its provision of Microsoft PlayReady, with associated servers allegedly deploying license policies based on factors such as geography and time (e.g., establishing allowed dates and expiry periods following a media item’s first playback).
Judge Alsup Upholds Noninfringement Verdict for Juniper from Finjan “Shootout” Trial
March 15, 2019
Networking, Patent Litigation Feature
District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California has denied a post-trial motion by Finjan, Inc., rejecting its attempt to overturn a December noninfringement verdict for Juniper Networks and denying its request for a new trial (3:17-cv-05659). In that verdict, the jury found that Juniper had not infringed a single claim from a Finjan anti-malware patent after struggling with the application of a key claim term; in a March 11 order, Judge Alsup held that the jury had not erred by reaching that verdict. The denial of Finjan’s post-trial motions is just the latest of multiple setbacks for the NPE in this lawsuit, following significant difficulties with its damages case—including Judge Alsup’s holding that Finjan had overinflated its asserted royalty base and his decision to exclude the entire testimony of its damages expert. The single-claim December trial stemmed from the case’s first “patent shootout”, an unorthodox procedure designed by Judge Alsup to more efficiently get to the merits of a patent case by forcing the parties to litigate their best arguments first.
New Empire IP Affiliate Launches Matchmaking Campaign
March 14, 2019
E-Commerce and Software, New Patent Litigation
A new affiliate of Empire IP LLC has filed its first litigation, suing IAC/InterActivecorp (Humor Rainbow) (1:19-cv-02318) in the Southern District of New York. Ghaly Devices LLC has accused Humor Rainbow of infringement through the provision of the OKCupid online dating service and mobile app. At issue are features that allow the user to select dating preferences by specifying personality traits derived from a personal profile system. The sole patent-in-suit is generally directed to a matchmaking interface allowing the user to select personality traits in that fashion.
Latest Parity Networks Complaints Split Patents by Pending PTAB Proceedings
March 14, 2019
Networking, New Patent Litigation
Parity Networks LLC has added two Western District of Texas suits against Cisco (6:19-cv-00207, 6:19-cv-00209) to its network traffic management campaign. In the first case, the NPE asserts three patents for the first time, together with the only patent familiar to the litigation yet to be challenged before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). All four patents at issue in the second case have been previously asserted and challenged in a petition for inter partes review (IPR). Cisco’s accused products include various network hardware operating systems (Cisco IOS, Cisco IOS XR, Cisco IOS XE, and Cisco NX-OS) offering various network traffic management features as well as switches and/or routers running that software.
Fortress Begins Litigating Former DivX and Sonic Solutions Patents in New Video Streaming Campaign
March 9, 2019
Media Content and Distribution, New Patent Litigation
DivX, LLC, a subsidiary of Fortress Investment Group LLC, has filed cases against Hulu (2:19-cv-01606) and Netflix (2:19-cv-01602), apparently the first to litigate patents acquired as part of Fortress’s asset purchase from NeuLion roughly one year ago. The NPE asserts seven of those patents against Hulu, and eight against Netflix, describing the asserted patents as disclosing “technologies that enable many benefits, including receipt and playback of streaming digital video on a wide variety of consumer electronic devices; high-quality video playback, including 4K high-resolution video, without stalls; robust and efficient DRM; and features that improve user experience, including trick play and fast start”. The defendants are accused of infringement through provision of their video streaming services.
Standing Debate Continues as Fortress-Uniloc Deal Casts a Long Shadow over Lawsuits Against Apple
March 8, 2019
Mobile Communications and Devices, Patent Litigation Feature
In October 2018, a battle over standing erupted in litigation between Apple and Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited (Uniloc). Apple had moved to dismiss four of Uniloc’s cases against it after learning of a complex set of agreements between the NPE and Fortress Investment Group LLC, arguing that Uniloc’s purported “defaults” under those agreements had deprived Uniloc of standing by shifting sufficient rights in the asserted patents to Fortress. District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California denied that motion in January, holding in part that Fortress had shown through its conduct that Uniloc had cured any defaults that had occurred. Apple has now moved for reconsideration of that order, asserting that at least one of Uniloc’s defaults could not have been excused under the evidence presented and that the purported “cure” was really an implied waiver, which would be barred under the relevant agreements—under which any waiver by Fortress must be in writing. Uniloc, meanwhile, has asked the court to roll back certain redactions in Apple’s motion, arguing that only a narrower set of contractual terms between the NPE and Fortress needed to be withheld.
In Smartphone Camera Campaign, PTAB Setbacks Prompt Apparent Belt-and-Suspenders District Court Case
March 5, 2019
Mobile Communications and Devices, New Patent Litigation
Just over a year ago, inventor-backed Lemaire Illumination Technologies LLC added an Eastern District of Texas case against HTC to its sole litigation campaign, targeting color-adjusted camera flash systems within the defendants’ smartphones with three patents broadly related to controlling and powering a solid-state light source such as a light-emitting diode (LED). That complaint highlighted one claim from each of the three patents. HTC countered, in part, with petitions for inter partes review (IPR) of the patents asserted, challenging those three highlighted claims, as well as others. The district court proceeded into claim construction, with Lemaire Illumination briefing disputes over terms from each patent, when the NPE, shortly thereafter, disclaimed before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) the highlighted claims for two of the patents. HTC has quickly moved in Texas for partial summary judgment as to those two patents, while Lemaire Illumination has filed an apparent belt-and-suspenders complaint (2:19-cv-00317)—naming HTC America, instead of its parent HTC Corporation, in a new forum. That second complaint asserts the same three patents against the same products but highlights different claims from those two patents in some trouble before the PTAB.
ZTE Mobile Devices Targeted in Latest Ironworks Complaint
March 4, 2019
Mobile Communications and Devices, New Patent Litigation
Ironworks Patents LLC has added a Northern District of Texas lawsuit against ZTE (3:19-cv-00513) to the long-running mobile devices campaign, begun in March 2010, that Ironworks took over from MobileMedia Ideas LLC in mid-2017. The NPE asserts a set of five familiar patents, generally related to alerts, including tactile alerts, on a “mobile station”, that includes the four patents asserted in a January case filed against ASUSTek in the Eastern District of Texas. These new suits follow dismissals in prior litigation against Apple, BLU Products, and TCL Communication, as well as an appeal to the Federal Circuit from a stipulated final judgment entered in a Northern District of California case filed against Samsung. Ironworks has targeted features on smartphones and tablets for silencing “alert sounds” announcing, e.g., the receipt of a call, alleging that it began communications with ZTE about the portfolio now asserted in litigation starting in June 2010.
Image Capture and Transfer Campaign Keeps Rolling Past Repeated Alice Motions
March 4, 2019
E-Commerce and Software, New Patent Litigation
As Sapphire Crossing LLC adds to its litigation campaign a case against SAP (Concur) (1:19-cv-01442) in the Northern District of Illinois and two other cases, one each against Kellogg (1:19-cv-00415) and WageWorks (1:19-cv-00416) in the District of Delaware, existing defendants in the latter forum have established a pattern. HealthEquity, Intuit, Quotient, WEX Health, Visa, and Xero have all answered Sapphire Crossing’s complaint but have also filed concurrent motions to dismiss, which challenge the few claims of the patent-in-suit left standing after an earlier inter partes review (IPR) under Alice. The motions are nearly identical, identifying the putative abstract idea to which the image transfer patent is patent-ineligibly directed as “data recognition and transfer”. If recent past is precedent, those suits will likely reach a resolution before the court addresses any of the motions filed.
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