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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.
University of California Taps Longford Capital to Fund LED Lighting Campaign
August 1, 2019
Patent Market, Patent Watch
An LED light bulb campaign begun in 2016 by The Regents of the University of California has been rebooted, this time with funding by litigation finance firm Longford Capital. On July 30, The Regents filed a wave of lawsuits against Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Ikea, Target, and Walmart in the Central District of California, alleging infringement of a group of four patents developed by a “Nobel laureate-led team” at the University of Santa Barbara. The defendants are accused of infringement through provision of filament LED light bulbs, sales of which—according to The Regents, which have also filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC)—are expected to exceed $1B in the US this year.
Spellcheck Campaign Nears the Close of Its Second Decade, with a New Case Against Apple and Open Cases Against HTC, LG Electronics, and Zoho
August 1, 2019
Consumer Electronics and PCs, E-Commerce and Software, Mobile Communications and Devices, New Patent Litigation
Inventor-controlled Sentius International, LLC has filed another suit in its spellcheck and grammar check campaign, accusing Apple (1:19-cv-01444) of infringing two patents already at issue in the litigation. The NPE accuses Apple of infringement through the provision of a wide variety of iOS devices, as well as certain versions of online applications (e.g., iCloud Keynote, iCloud Pages, iWork), as used with “Apple servers, a master dictionary database, [and] syndicated versions of that master dictionary database in the form of spell check dictionaries”. The complaint targets spellcheck and grammar check functionalities within those products. The new Delaware suit joins open cases in the same district filed last August against HTC and LG Electronics (LGE) and an open declaratory judgment action brought in the Northern District of California against Sentius by Zoho.
IP Edge Plaintiff Files Second Round in Database Query Campaign
July 31, 2019
E-Commerce and Software, New Patent Litigation
Devine Licensing LLC, an NPE associated with monetization firm IP Edge LLC, has filed a second round of suits in its campaign over a single patent generally related to optimizing a database query. The new defendants are Altibase (2:19-cv-16163), DataStax (1:19-cv-01440), and MariaDB (1:19-cv-01441), accused of infringement over the provision of their database management systems: Altibase HDB 6.5.1, DataStax Enterprise 5.0, and MariaDB MaxScale 1.4, respectively. IP Edge acquired the asserted patent, which originated with IBM, from Huawei in a February 2019 transaction involving a total of 11 US patent assets, with subject matters ranging from network-connected “domestic food-processing appliances” to sharing “presence information”, from battery charging to digital cameras.
Website User Authentication Campaign Hits Facebook
July 30, 2019
E-Commerce and Software, New Patent Litigation
Facebook (4:19-cv-04355) has become the fifth defendant sued in the new litigation campaign of Utah plaintiff TransactionSecure, L.L.C., which hit DeviantArt, Fitbit, Microsoft (GitHub), and Stripe earlier in July. The defendants are accused of infringement through the use of the OAuth 2.0 protocol, a user authentication framework, on their respective websites, in this new case focusing on its use by Instagram. The asserted patent broadly concerns authenticating a user’s identity using a “trusted entity” with a repository that holds the user’s personal information.
Commstech Expands Networking Campaign over Some Former Harris Corporation Patents, Passes Others Along to Separate NPE
July 27, 2019
Networking, New Patent Litigation
Texas NPE Commstech LLC has followed up its Western District of Texas case against Cisco, filed in May 2019, with two July suits, one each against Allied Telesis (3:19-cv-04006), filed in the Northern District of California, and Juniper Networks (4:19-cv-00545), filed in the Eastern District of Texas. Three of the six patents asserted against Cisco, generally related to network traffic management and memory management, are at issue in the new complaints, with infringement allegations targeting networking products and related software. On July 26, Cisco filed an answer to the complaint against it.
Recently Recorded Assignments Include Two Semi Portfolio Acquisitions by Quarterhill, Perhaps Signaling New Litigation to Come
July 26, 2019
Patent Market, Patent Watch
Quarterhill Inc. acquired over 1,000 US assets from two major semiconductor foundries in late 2018/early 2019, according to USPTO records released this month. The transacted portfolios include patents originating with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), DB HiTek, GlobalFoundries, IBM, Renesas, and STMicro. While the assignments were executed in November 2018/January 2019, they were only recently recorded with the USPTO—possibly in preparation for litigation by Quarterhill.
Virtual Assistants at Issue in New Western District of Texas Campaign
July 26, 2019
Mobile Communications and Devices, New Patent Litigation
Parus Holdings, Inc. has launched its second litigation campaign, filing suit against Alphabet (Google) (6:19-cv-00433), Apple (6:19-cv-00432), LG Electronics (LGE) (6:19-cv-00437), and Samsung (6:19-cv-00438) over the provision of products that feature virtual assistants, including Bixby (as to Samsung), Google Assistant (as to Google, LGE, and Samsung) and Siri (as to Apple). The two asserted patents are homegrown and generally relate to using voice recognition to browse the Internet on a device. The first litigation campaign of Parus Holdings ran into an Alice buzz saw when District Judge Sue Robinson in the District of Delaware invalidated the patents asserted there, against banks, under Alice, a decision affirmed per curiam by the Federal Circuit in April 2017, roughly one year before the appellate court’s Berkheimer and Aatrix decisions raised questions about the propriety of early patent eligibility determinations.
Texas Judge Rejects Social Media Patent Under Alice Amidst Broader Downturn in Section 101 Invalidation Rates
July 26, 2019
E-Commerce and Software, Patent Litigation Feature
The Northern District of Texas has invalidated a social media patent asserted by NetSoc, LLC against IAC/InterActiveCorp (Humor Rainbow (d/b/a OKCupid), Match Group, PlentyOfFish Media), a relatively rare Alice ruling in a venue that has historically seen far less patent litigation than some of its sister districts. On July 22, District Judge David C. Godbey ruled that the sole patent-in-suit is ineligible as directed to the abstract idea of “presenting results of data collection and analysis” without the addition of an inventive concept. Judge Godbey’s ruling runs counter to a notable, recent shift in Section 101 invalidation rates—which have dropped significantly since the Federal Circuit’s February 2018 rulings in Berkheimer and Aatrix, as detailed in RPX’s recent second-quarter update.
3Dlabs Founders’ New Company Sues Sony over Game Streaming
July 25, 2019
Consumer Electronics and PCs, New Patent Litigation
Sony (8:19-cv-01432) has been sued in the Central District of California by Intellectual Pixels Limited (IPL) over a family of patents originally developed at 3Dlabs, the cofounders of which control IPL. The four asserted patents generally relate to providing remote access to a graphics application, with IPL’s infringement allegations targeting Sony’s provision of the PlayStation Now gaming streaming service and the PlayStation Remote Play and Remote Play app streaming service, with underlying technologies developed by Gaikai and acquired by Sony in 2012. IPL’s complaint recounts the history of 3Dlabs, from independence as a “prominent develop of graphics processing units” through acquisition by Creative Technology in 2002, the plaintiff further pleading that “[a]lthough never commercialized by 3Dlabs or Creative, the concept of cloud gaming and streaming other graphics applications from a server or the cloud to a client device was considered one of the most valuable inventions developed by 3Dlabs”.
Akoloutheo Continues Targeting SaaS Products
July 24, 2019
Networking, New Patent Litigation
Last week saw a May 2019 case against Symantec follow the path of most defendants in Akoloutheo, LLC’s first litigation campaign: quick dismissal with prejudice (following a notice of settlement). However, the week also saw the NPE file a new suit in the Eastern District of Texas, against IBM (4:19-cv-00551), as it awaits a decision from District Judge Amos L. Mazzant whether to grant a motion to transfer filed in an earlier case there, against Thoughtspot, to the Northern District of California. Thoughtspot’s would be the second case in the campaign to persist meaningfully past the pleadings stage; a Texas suit filed roughly one year ago, against Blackrock (NetScout Systems), has proceeded into discovery, with a claim construction hearing before Judge Mazzant currently set for October 30 of this year.
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