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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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Aug 12th, 2014 @ 12:43pm

    With those numbers, can anyone out there legitimately claim that patents are not a net drain on the economy today? Do the math.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anon, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 1:25pm

    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 8x40 character LCD screen laptop?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Paul Pentz (profile), Aug 12th, 2014 @ 1:27pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    mcinsand, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 1:38pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 1:40pm

    why are there no laws against this sort of thing

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 1:49pm

    This is a business that exists solely based on bad legislation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Lord_Unseen (profile), Aug 12th, 2014 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Patent selling

    Actually, since the only way for a company to hold a patent is by transfer (whether buying patents from others or by contract with their employees). By making them non-transferable, we would effectively make corporate held patents illegal.



    I could live with that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Patent selling

    It would suck to be an independent innovator. You could not be bought out by a big company for far more than your work will ever be worth on the market like today. The holes in the system is what defines it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), Aug 12th, 2014 @ 2:17pm

    Re:

    We tried that a while back. The lawyers shot it down.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Re: Patent selling

    Or maybe what we can do is shorten the lifespan of the patent each time it is transferred.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Patent selling

    In fact that would be a good idea for copy protection as well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Lord_Unseen (profile), Aug 12th, 2014 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Patent selling

    That seems like a more workable solution.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 3:22pm

    I wish these guys would get together and attack hollywood copyrights the same way , Don't get me wrong they are pure shit , but hey if they'd go after hollywood i'd love to watch the show.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 3:30pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Zem, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 4:43pm

    Missed opportunity

    "light emitting panel assemblies" is also a general description of every wall recessed light fitting, lamp with flat sides, office ceiling light etc.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 5:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Patent selling

    A transfer should also include a merger or acquisition or maybe even if a company is spun off from a parent company and goes independent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Socrates, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 7:56pm

    Hollywood

    The movie makers moved to Hollywood to avoid Edison's patents. A fact Hollywood tend to prefer not mentioned.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Seegras (profile), Aug 12th, 2014 @ 11:12pm

    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

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Seegras (profile), Aug 12th, 2014 @ 11:14pm

    Re: Re: Patent selling

    And why would you want to grant a monopoly on ideas in the first place?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2014 @ 5:39am

    Re: Missed opportunity

    They may have mistaken their Light-Bright for something in the tech field.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Vincent Clement (profile), Aug 13th, 2014 @ 6:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Patent selling

    Or require the patent holder to actually create something that utilizes the patent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2014 @ 6:43am

    The title you have selected for your article is grossly overbroad and misleading. Even a cursory review of the patents at issue quickly reveals that they are much more limited in scope than what your title states.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 13th, 2014 @ 7:13am

    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.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2014 @ 7:20am

    Re:

    Oi! Ronald J. Riley! You left your cocksleeve behind again!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2014 @ 3:31am

    Re: Huh?

    But these are new! They're interactive LCD displays and "light emitting panel assemblies," not the shoddy old liquid crystal displays that you have to shine a light on to read.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    Sturgeon (profile), Sep 12th, 2014 @ 12:03am

    if we can not find some laws to against,what is the worst influence you think?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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