Know Your Troll: Innovative Display Technologies Targeting Any Company That Creates A Product With An LCD Screen

from the plaintiff-utilizes-neither-innovation,-displays-nor-technology dept

Innovative Technologies, LLC of Austin, Texas doesn’t make any products or even have its own website. What it does have, however, is a handful of weaponized patents its parent company, Acacia, acquired from “we’re not a patent troll” Rambus. It’s using a handful of display-related patents to sue anyone who utilizes an integrated LCD screen. Its latest targets are cell phone distributors like Verizon, AT&T and Apple, but other lawsuits have also been filed against auto manufacturers (Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda), camera companies (Canon, Nikon) and GPS suppliers (TomTom, Garmin).

Innovative Technologies calls this address in Austin, Texas “home:”

1701 DIRECTORS BLVD STE 300
AUSTIN TX 78744-1044

The offices at Southpark One in Austin must be incredibly large, seeing as the same address also houses a number of other Acacia-owned subsidiaries, like Database Sync Solutions LLC, Brilliant Optical Solutions LLC, ChipSys Integrations LLC, Cellular Communications Equipment LLC, Media Recording Solutions LLC, Lifeshield Sciences LLC, RFID-Rx LLC, Promethean Insulation Technology LLC, and Progressive Semiconductor Solutions LLC.

Of course, when your only “employees” are outside law firms, you don’t really need a big office. All you need is a business registration that will give you access to a favorable court system.

IDT is suing these companies for violating its patents on “light emitting panel assemblies.” The recent case filed against Apple is actually its second. The first ended with what appeared to be a settlement agreement (and dismissed without prejudice), but that must not have panned out as IDT filed its second lawsuit against the cell phone/tablet maker two months after its original dismissal, this time asking for nearly $6 billion in “accrued royalties.”

IDT currently has 34 cases in litigation. In addition to the premature dismissal above, it has already secured a licensing agreement from Garmin. But that’s it. Not a very productive set of weaponized patents, but a list of current litigation obviously doesn’t include anyone who agreed to pay a licensing fee as the result of lawsuit threats. This low “conversion rate” probably doesn’t matter much to Acacia, the company sitting on top of a pile of patents and LLCs that exist in name only.

Tracing the patents back from IDT to Acacia to Rambus, it’s immediately clear that no one along this supply chain has ever produced a product utilizing these patents, but that’s not going to stop all of these entities from attempting to profit from the products of others. And yet, Acacia still claims it’s a vital part of the innovation process.

According to its website, the company is an intermediary in the patent market and “facilitates efficiency and delivers monetary rewards to the patent owner.” Acacia boasts that it has generated more than $1 billion in revenue to date and has returned more than $455 million to its patent partners.

Marvin Key of Acacia says his company isn’t a patent troll and claims that it’s business model isn’t predicated on “frivolous” lawsuits.

“The implication in almost everything you read is that there is nothing positive at all about licensing patents,” Key said. “The implication is when someone is sued, whether a small or big company, that every single one of those cases is frivolous, abusive and without merit. And that’s simply untrue.”

But the legal history of the company says otherwise. Here’s its current “portfolio” of holding companies, along with the number of lawsuits filed.

3D DESIGN SOLUTIONS LLC – 1
3DEGREES LLC – 0
ARG MEDICAL SOLUTIONS LLC – 0
ACCUHALE LLC – 1
ADAPTIX, INC. – 64
ADJUSTACAM LLC – 2
ADVANCED PROCESSOR TECHNOLOGIES LLC – 12
AMERICAN VEHICULAR SCIENCES LLC – 35
AUTO-DIMENSIONS LLC – 6
AUTOMATED FACILITIES MANAGEMENT CORPORATION – 13
BEVERAGE DISPENSING SOLUTIONS LLC – 3
BODY SCIENCE LLC – 17
BOLT MRI TECHNOLOGIES LLC – 1
BONUTTI SKELETAL INNOVATIONS LLC – 11
BRANDYWINE COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES LLC – 138
BRILLIANT OPTICAL SOLUTIONS LLC – 11
CELL AND NETWORK SELECTION LLC – 5
CELLULAR COMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT LLC – 12
CHALUMEAU POWER SYSTEMS LLC – 4
COMPUTER SOFTWARE PROTECTION LLC – 6
CONVERGENT MEDIA SOLUTIONS LLC – 0
DRAM MEMORY TECHNOLOGIES LLC – 3
DRAM MEMTECH LLC – 0
DATA ENGINE TECHNOLOGIES LLC – 7
DATABASE SYNC SOLUTIONS LLC – 1
DYNAMIC 3D GEOSOLUTIONS LLC – 6
DYNAMIC TRANSMISSION TECHNOLOGIES LLC – 4
ENDOTACH LLC – 7
EVM SYSTEMS LLC – 2
EXPRESS CARD SYSTEMS LLC – 18
GT GAMING LLC – 0
IN-DEPTH TEST LLC – 0
INDUSTRIAL PRINT TECHNOLOGIES LLC – 2
INNOVATIVE DISPLAY TECHNOLOGIES LLC – 37
INTERCARRIER COMMUNICATIONS LLC – 16
LABYRINTH OPTICAL TECHNOLOGIES LLC – 6
LAMBDA OPTICAL SOLUTIONS LLC – 1
LIFEPORT SCIENCES LLC – 6
LIFESCREEN SCIENCES LLC – 7
LIFESHIELD SCIENCES LLC – 0
LIGHT TRANSFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES LLC – 5
MOBILE ENHANCEMENT SOLUTIONS LLC – 4
NAVATUNE LLC – 0
NUCLEIC ACID PURIFICATION TECHNOLOGIES LLC – 0
O.S. SECURITY LLC – 6
ONLINE NEWS LINK LLC – 17
OPTIMUM CONTENT PROTECTION LLC – 1
PANALOGIN LLC – 0
PARKING SPACE INNOVATIONS LLC – 1
PROGRESSIVE SEMICONDUCTOR SOLUTIONS LLC – 2
PROMETHEAN INSULATION TECHNOLOGY LLC – 10
SAINT LAWRENCE COMMUNICATIONS LLC – 1
SIGNAL ENHANCEMENT TECHNOLOGIES LLC – 1
SMARTPHONE TECHNOLOGIES LLC – 15
SUPER INTERCONNECT TECHNOLOGIES LLC – 6
SUPER RESOLUTION TECHNOLOGIES LLC – 5
TAXVANTAGE LLC – 0
UNIFIED MESSAGING SOLUTIONS LLC – 116
VERTICAL ANALYTICS LLC – 1
VIDEO STREAMING SOLUTIONS LLC – 3
VIEW 360 SOLUTIONS LLC – 1
WEB TRACKING SOLUTIONS LLC – 0
WIRELESS MOBILE DEVICES, LLC – 7

63 subsidiaries. 669 lawsuits, most of which were filed between 2011-2014 and not a single one of them filed by a company that generates anything more than legal filings. Acacia’s claim that these aren’t “frivolous” would be more credible if they weren’t filed exclusively by companies that exist only as a sheet of paper and almost solely in friendly Texas courts. The only innovations these “companies” can be linked to are efficiencies in billable hour recording.

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: acacia, apple, at&t, canon, garmin, innovative technologies, mazda, mercedes-benz, nikon, tomtom, verizon, volkswagen

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Know Your Troll: Innovative Display Technologies Targeting Any Company That Creates A Product With An LCD Screen”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
26 Comments
Seegras (profile) says:

Re: Re:

As expected:
The granting [of] patents ‘inflames cupidity’, excites fraud, stimulates men to run after schemes that may enable them to levy a tax on the public, begets disputes and quarrels betwixt inventors, provokes endless lawsuits…The principle of the law from which such consequences flow cannot be just. — The Economist, July 26, 1851

Anon says:

Huh?

I think I had a LCD watch in the mid 70’s and an LCD calculator in the mid 70’s. How can any patent still apply for that?

Wikipedia says the first calculator with LCD display was marketed in 1972.

Don’t patents have a 17-year or 20-year lifespan? By 1994 lots of devices had LCD displays, there was IIRC even a graphing calculator… and LCD laptops, even if they were clunkers with barely readable displays. (Remember the TRS-80 model 100 with 8×40 character LCD screen laptop?

mcinsand (profile) says:

Re: prior art

Check out the Microvision:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microvision

LCD display, check. I still have mine, as well as several games. However, after reading the Wikipedia article, I want to check on it tonight. It’s been years since I’ve had it out of the box, and I’m now wondering if the LCD is now toast with age.

Still, if the USPTO granted a patent that would cover LCD displays and still be valid, we need to be able to start some sort of legal proceedings to hold the responsible parties accountable. Maybe we can’t currently file a class action lawsuit against the USPTO for negligence. If not, we need to write senate and congress to push for change.

Paul Pentz (profile) says:

Patent selling

Patents should not be transferable. Period. Not given away, not bought, not sold. That way they would help protect the ones that actually did the work, not some troll that only bought a piece of paper. When the original patent holder dies, the patent dies with them.

Of course corporations can hold patents, so in those cases the patent should have a reasonable life span, say 4 years.

Anonymous Coward says:

The game of Boggle

Let’s assume that their patents are valid (I might leave it there and go for funniest comment) I.e. it is new, inventive, etc. That the companies they are suing have never read their patents or used their products means that they have never been aided in the inventive process by the troll.
But let’s go one step further. If the troll sues the company and the company can prove that they weren’t influenced by the patent, the non-obvious requirement of the patent gets revisited.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I dunno. The set of patents used in the Apple lawsuit, taken collectively could be reasonably characterized as stated in the title. It might be a bit hyperbolic, but only a little bit.

Reading through those patent claims is interesting. That’s not my field so I’m not really qualified to say what is obvious to the average practitioner and what is not, but those all seem pretty obvious to me (and many have a fair amount of prior art.)

Leave a Reply to Seegras Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...