The first patent lawsuits of 2021, explained (Part 3)
Patented: GPS tracking, team file-sharing, wireless standards, and more.
I’m almost done plowing through the January patent lawsuits of 2021. It’s been interesting to go through each of the cases from a month but it’s also beyond my bandwidth to keep this up, so after I finish my full list for January stats I’ll have to change tack, and will just pick a few of the most interesting cases to write about in future months. If you have thoughts on what cases are most worth covering, I’m all ears: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today, I’ll briefly examine all the patent cases filed by non-practicing entities (NPEs) between January 18 and 24. So this is Week Three of the year, which is kind of Year Zero for the Letters Patent calendar. I’ve already written posts running down who filed cases in week one and week two. For the week of Jan. 18-24, I counted 44 utility patent lawsuits, of which 27 were non-practicing entity (NPE) cases. That’s 61% of the total.
Here’s the third edition of my litigation spreadsheet which has all case numbers and case names for those interested.
The most popular district was again the Western District of Texas, with 15 of those cases. A full 14 out of the 15 W.D. Texas cases were NPE cases. The second most popular district was Delaware, with 11 cases filed. Notably, only 3 of the 11 Delaware cases were NPE cases.
The one lawsuit that really jumped out at me from this week I covered in some depth last week: that’s the Thompson v. Melcher case. An Oregon resident says he has a patent on his state’s MyODFW mobile app, and has sued the head of the Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife for infringement.
The rest of the NPE cases this month are nothing really out of the ordinary. There are appearances by both Raymond Joao and Leigh Rothschild, whose inventions have already made multiple appearances in 2021 lawsuits. There are a few new entities, including one asserting patent rights over highlighting in e-books. Also, we see two different entities asserting patents that came through Intellectual Ventures. Even as it may be winding down, IV patents are having a long-term impact on the U.S. litigation landscape that may last for years to come.
Without further ado, here’s what I found out about the NPE cases that were filed from Jan. 18 to 24:
Pixel Display LLC v. Hisense Co., Ltd. et al [Complaint]
Pixel Display is a new NPE just getting started. Address is an Austin virtual office. This is its third lawsuit suing over U.S. Patent No. 7,245,343, originally issued to Japan’s NEC Corp. in 2007. The patent comes by way of Intellectual Ventures.
Castlemorton Wireless, LLC v. Legrand North America, LLC [Complaint]
Castlemorton Wireless, LLC v. Ubiquiti Inc.
U.K.-based Castlemorton has filed more than 30 lawsuits based off Geoffrey Bagley’s patent claiming rights to international wireless standards.
Intellectual Keystone Technology LLC v. JOLED Inc. et al [Complaint]
This NPE was created in 2013 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Group. “IKT will be tasked to find out which patents are helpful and valued for Samsung,” an unnamed industry source told the Korea Times. It’s suing JOLED and Asustek, as an add-on to the lawsuit that Samsung filed against those defendants earlier in the month. And JOLED apparently threw the first punch here, suing Samsung earlier in 2020.
This whole Samsung v. JOLED & Asustek dispute is going to be worked out in Waco, Texas, because of course it makes sense for a Korean company to battle a Japanese company and a Taiwanese company in Waco. Very cool and efficient.
Heavy Duty Lighting, LLC v. RAB Lighting, Inc. [Complaint]
Newish entity has filed 3 cases so far over LED lighting patents. Its address is the Ni Law Firm in Dallas, Texas, which also signed off on the patent transfers. Asserting a bunch of patents that originated at Japan’s Sharp Corporation.
BCS Software has filed 18 lawsuits, all in the Western District of Texas. Four appear to be based on this patent, number 8,819,120, “Method and system for group communications.” The accused products are team-based file-sharing systems.
The company is based in a co-working space in Waco, Texas, and is registered to do business under the name Bluebonnet Consulting Services, although I can’t find any evidence it’s done any business at all. Its members are Douglas R. Baum and Marlena Fitts, both of Austin. Baum is also connected to Vindolor LLC, another NPE with 10+ lawsuits to its name.
Aperture IP LLC v. Wyze Labs, Inc. [Complaint]
The company was formed in November, with Adam Baumli, an attorney and portfolio manager at IP Valuation Partners, listed as the managing member.
The defendant is Wyze, a Seattle-based smart camera startup that has moved into other smart home products. Crunchbase reports $45 million in total venture funding for this still-young startup with perhaps 100 employees. Wyze’s door camera, which looks like a Ring competitor, is accused.
Sharpe Innovations, Inc. v. Verizon Communications Inc. [Complaint]
Company is based at a residential address, an “all brick waterfront mansion” with a boat dock in Mineral, Virginia. U.S. Patent No. 8,573,986 for “SIM Card Adaptor” is owned by Sharpe Innovations. The patent describes a plastic cutout allowing use of a smaller SIM card in a device that would otherwise hold a larger SIM card. Verizon’s SIM Starter Kit, which includes a Micro SIM adapter, is said to infringe.
Before transfer, the patent was co-owned by named inventor Cameron Alan Holmes; Odette Kim Holmes; and William Andrew Sharpe.
Since 2017, Sharpe has filed 14 lawsuits against cell phone companies and vendors.
Lexidine, LLC v. Onyx Enterprises International Corp. [Complaint]
Lexidine is owned by Mr. Eric Park, the inventor on U.S. Patent No. 7,609,961. Park’s patent claims to cover brake light cameras. There’s no evidence Lexidine does much, but Park appears to also be affiliated with a company called Savv Automotive, which shows cameras for sale (but they’re all sold out).
Since 2019, Lexidine has sued 13 companies making automotive cameras, in various judicial districts.
Social Positioning Input Systems, LLC v. Lytx, Inc. [Complaint]
Social Positioning Input Systems, LLC v. Particle Industries, Inc. [Complaint]
Social Positioning Input Systems, LLC v. ClearPathGPS, Inc. [Complaint]
Social Positioning Input Systems (I’ll call it SPIS) is another creation of Leigh Rothschild, a serial litigator who often sued small companies. Rothschild entities have filed lawsuits every week of 2021 that I’ve looked at so far.
In these lawsuits, SPIS claims infringement of patent number 9,261,365, which claims “sharing information for a positional information device.” Basically, if you have a GPS tracking system, SPIS might take a bite. All three of these defendants do different types of vehicle tracking using GPS.
Flexiworld Technologies, Inc. v. Canon, Inc. et al [Complaint]
Flexiworld, which did business as Flexiwave, is in that class of NPE that definitely had some products, once upon a time. The Portland-area company still has a website up, which looks like it hasn’t been updated since 2006. It advertises some Bluetooth products, but just looking at them, they’re clearly from another era.
Flexiworld sued Skype for patent infringement way back in 2007. No litigation from then until 2020, but now it’s found new meaning in patent lawsuits. Flexiworld sued Amazon and Roku last year, and now has sued Canon over wireless printers.
Safe Driving Technologies LLC v. Ford Motor Company [Complaint]
Safe Driving Technologies (SDT) inherited the IP of Applied Computer Technologies, which still has a website up and looks like a once-upon-a-time company. Inventor Mouhamad Naboulsi founded Applied Computer Tech, and he used to work for Ford Motor Company, the defendant in this case, following a stint at Mazda.
The complaint states Naboulsi demonstrated his invention, a way to reduce distracted driving, to Ford executives, and was asked to assign his invention to them, but declined. “Mr. Naboulsi was eventually terminated in December 2004” by a manager at Ford, the complaint states. “While the official reason for termination was a ‘conflict of interest,’ Mr. Naboulsi believes that he was terminated because he refused to assign his invention to Ford.
Rock Creek Networks, LLC v. D-Link Corporation [Complaint]
Rock Creek is a new entity, a Texas LLC holding U.S. Patent No. 6,671,750, which originated at Japan’s NEC. It sued 3 other companies on Jan. 28, following this suit against D-Link filed on Jan. 22.
Trenchant Blade Technologies LLC v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. et al [Complaint]
Samsung sued Trenchant Blade Tech, along with a company called Longhorn IP, last year in California. Longhorn has some patents it got from AMD, and Trenchant Blade is holding patents that were assigned to it from TSMC, a Taiwanese chipmaker.
Now Trenchant Blade has sued in its preferred district, the Western District of Texas. Trenchant Blade has a website (and a blog!) on which it announced this lawsuit. Points for transparency. “The patents at issue relate to state-of-the-art semiconductor manufacturing and chip packaging technologies,” it states.
Terrestrial Comms LLC v. Plantronics Inc. [Complaint]
Terrestrial Comms is located in a Dallas virtual office and his filed several lawsuits against a half-dozen electronics makers, as well as retailer Best Buy. Plantronics bluetooth earpieces are accused of violating patent 7,411,552.
Caselas is an entity controlled by lawyer-inventor Raymond Joao, and I wrote about it as case #1 in my roundup post from a few weeks ago. Caselas’ business is to file lawsuits claiming that it was Joao who invented the idea of warning people about credit card chargebacks. Personally I don’t think this is a particularly credible claim, but it hasn’t stopped Caselas from suing banks large and small. My current count shows Caselas has filed 23 litigations, all filed since December.
Light Speed Microelectronics, LLC v. NXP Semiconductors N.V. et al [Complaint]
I covered Liberty as case #11 from my Jan. 26th post, when they were preemptively sued by Lenovo. Liberty is owned by a Texas attorney who has filed around a dozen lawsuits. These cases assert two patents that originated at Cypress Semiconductor, and like Liberty’s other cases, the patents were transferred by way of Intellectual Ventures.
Pop Top Corp. v. Ectaco, Inc. [Complaint]
Pop Top has used a “web highlighting” patent, number 7,966,623, to sue Ectaco, Barnes and Noble, and Rakuten Kobo, all of which make e-reader apps.
The inventor is Sunnyvale resident Rohit Chandra. The complaint claims Chandra “built companies which… offered widgets, superior search results, tools for curating web documents, highlighting, social networks, etc.” It says the app that powers Ectaco’s Boox e-reader infringes. Previous lawsuits accuse the Nook and Kobo e-readers of infringing as well.
Chandra’s LinkedIn page also says he invented the “Personalized/Vanity URL (e.g. http://username.domain.com), in the form of Patent No. 6,085,242.
That’s all for this week. Please send feedback about what you do or don’t like in this newsletter, as well as tips for cases to take a closer look at, to email@example.com.
Image: From U.S. Patent 9,047,170, “Safety control system for vehicles.” See Case #42.