Category Archives: NPE News
Most commentators were pleased with the IP Checkups announcement that it was going to crowd-fund an investigation at IndieGogo to track and publish the holdings of Intellectual Ventures. Now comes a blog post from Gina Smith at anewdomain.net that sheds a different light on IP Checkups:
“The firm says it’s raising $80,000 to launch Case IV Thicket via crowd-source funding firm IndieGogo. It doesn’t mention that Irving S. Rappaport, a co-founder of IP Checkups, is an Intellectual Ventures-related inventor. According to public records obtained byaNewDomain.net, Rappaport is listed as a co-inventor on a patent with a cover that identifies as its owner a well-known Intellectual Ventures shell company, Rose Blush Software LLC, a Nevada LLC based in Los Altos, Calif.”
Did IV piss off the Senior Rappaport? What is IP Checkups true motivation here? More to come no doubt. But an intriguing twist.
Here is a link to the article with much more information: http://anewdomain.net/2012/10/15/spin-control-firm-aiming-to-out-intellectual-ventures-run-by-an-iv-related-inventor/
In a post on lexology.com, Hogan Lovells attorneys Logan M. Breed, Joseph Krauss and J. Robert Robertson report that:
“Senior officials from both the Department of Justice Antitrust Division (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have made recent public statements that the antitrust agencies should evaluate the behavior of NPEs and their effects on consumers. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz recently acknowledged that practicing entities have complained to the agency about NPEs, and the FTC’s chief economist said at a recent conference that NPEs are ‘worthy of some very serious attention.’ Similarly, Joe Wayland, the head of the Antitrust Division, stated in a recent speech that NPEs raise ‘a number of competitive concerns’ and the DOJ is ‘looking at the exercise of intellectual property rights’ by NPEs.”
Translation: NPE’s – GET READY! The Feds are coming after you. How many times have we seen these types of statements before? And they always lead to investigations, hearings, and ultimately action.
Potential sources of FTC/DOJ statutory oversight? As reported:
“The DOJ and FTC have not publicly discussed how they would apply the antitrust laws to NPEs. But they may explore several possible theories. First, the transfer of patents to an NPE may raise unique issues under Clayton Act § 7, which prohibits acquisitions that may tend to substantially lessen competition in a relevant market. If NPEs use a series of patent acquisitions to create a portfolio that enables the NPE to charge a supracompetitive price for its patents for the reasons discussed above, the DOJ or FTC could possibly block or undo those transactions. Second, NPEs that force practicing entities into package license agreements for thousands of the NPE’s patents (even though the NPE may not have a colorable basis to believe that the practicing entity actually infringe many of those patents) arguably may violate the Sherman Act § 1 prohibition on anticompetitive ‘tying’ contracts. A third relevant theory may be Sherman Act § 2, which prohibits anticompetitive conduct that creates or maintains monopoly power (e.g., an NPEs likely pursuit of sham litigation, or use of deceitful or unethical conduct). Finally, the FTC may be able to use § 5 of the FTC Act, which prohibits ‘unfair methods of competition’ and ‘unfair or deceptive acts or practices,’ to enjoin certain NPE behavior.”
So, NPE’s get ready to spend lots of $ on Washington insiders, lobbyists and attorneys.
For more see this link (registration may be required): http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=d994da61-08b4-43ad-a5a0-c9f43e1a779d
The gaming community is up in arms over the news that an apparent NPE Treehouse Avatar Technologies based in Ottawa Canada has sued Turbine Inc. the provider of the games Dungeons & Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online alleging infringement of Treehouses’s ‘858 patent.
See this DDO forum where the gamers vent: http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?p=4726651
For more about the patent and Treehouse go to this link: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/120081-Turbine-Faces-Patent-Troll
Wow. In a Techdirt.com post Mike Masnick reports on a very damning amended complaint that Cisco, Motorola, and Netgear have filed in the Northern District of Illinois against NPE Innovation IP Ventures, LLC. Of course, it is only a complaint but its contents are remarkable and depressing, if only partially true. As Masnick reports in summarizing the complaint:
“* Motorola, Cisco and Netgear all have licensed the patents in question…Innovatio conveniently doesn’t mention this to the people it sends threat letters to.
*The patents in question are part of commitments to IEEE that they’ll only be licensed on RAND terms, but the threat letters demand way more than would be considered “reasonable.”
*…Innovatio includes some expired patents in the list of patents it has threatened people over….
* Innovatio apparently tells the people it threatens that it’ll be cheaper to just settle, rather than to even investigate the claims that it’s making — and has told people that the manufacturers in question aren’t defending their customers, which is proven false by the lawsuit, which, again, was filed soon after Innovatio popped up on the scene.
*…Innovatio claims that the patents in question have “generated in excess of $1 billion in settlements and license fees” to scare small businesses into complying. It leaves out that it appears to be basing this number on the famous broad patent fight settlement between Qualcomm and Broadcom, which was a wide-ranging cross licensing program, that has nothing to do with Innovatio or its specific patents.”
Masnick concludes :
“The filing also includes standard claims of non-infringement and invalidity of the patents in question, but the highlighting of these other behaviors by Innovatio are really quite stunning. Even in cases of extreme patent trolling it’s pretty rare to see such egregious behavior. Every so often we see RICO claims being used to counter trollish behavior, but they rarely work. However, the details in this case suggest that if a RICO charge is going to stick, this seems like a reasonable case for it to happen.”
Please go the post by Masnick here which also embed the complaint for a MUST-READ: http://www.techdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20121009/01444620656/cisco-motorola-netgear-team-up-to-expose-wifi-patent-bully.shtml
According to CNET’s blog post about Lodsys Group: “The nonpracticing entity, which went after app makers on Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, and other technology platforms for infringing on its patents, said in a blog post this evening that the U.S. Patent Office has confirmed the validity of one of its patent’s key claims, effectively hobbling Google’s effort to have the patent invalidated.”
The report further states “The company, which owns intellectual property but doesn’t make any real products, also claimed in a separate blog post that its effort to license the in-app purchase patent to third parties has gained momentum, with 80 percent of the new agreements being achieved without litigation.”
Take that Apple and Google. Lodsys Group is on the march!
Here is a link to the CNET report with more information: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57528409-37/lodsys-claims-progress-in-fight-over-in-app-purchase-patents/