On Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, Cisco filed an answer-counterclaim in D. Del. against Rockstar in response to the complaint filed against Cisco by Rockstar’s subsidiary Bockstar (see our Jan. 2, 2014 post).  Cisco’s counterclaim includes a declaratory judgment action based on Rockstar’s assertion of patents against cable operators that purchase Cisco equipment, including cable

Another week, and another standard-essential patent trial.  Whereas last week brought us the jury’s verdict finding a RAND breach in the Microsoft-Motorola case, the trial this week relates to a determination of the appropriate RAND royalty rate for Innovatio IP Ventures, LLC’s WiFi-essential patent portfolio (consisting of patents previously owned by Broadcom).

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Earlier this week, we provided an update on the multitude of WiFi-related infringement lawsuits brought by non-practicing entity Innovative Wireless Solutions LLC against various hotels and restaurants in Texas, noting that IWS had dismissed these suits (albeit without prejudice).  We had discussed that this was a decidedly “un-Innovatio-like” turn in the cases — but yesterday brought a development that makes this series of disputes much more like the ones in the Northern District of Illinois involving Innovatio:  Cisco Systems Inc., a supplier of WiFi equipment for many of the hotels accused of infringement, got involved.  And Just like it did with Innovatio, Cisco here filed a declaratory judgment action against IWS, seeking declarations of invalidity and non-infringement as to IWS’s three asserted patents.

[UPDATE] In addition to Cisco, Hewlett-Packard has also filed a declaratory judgment action against IWS.  The link is below, and more details on that complaint are at the bottom of this post — including information about a potential license defense. [/UPDATE]

[SECOND UPDATE] On Friday, June 14, Ruckus Wireless, another WiFi equipment supplier, also filed a declaratory judgment complaint against IWS.  This complaint is very similar to the one filed by Cisco. [/SECOND UPDATE]

[Cisco Systems Inc v Innovative Wireless Solutions LLC Complaint]

[Hewlett-Packard-Company v. Innovative-Wireless-Solutions-LLC Complaint]

[Ruckus Wireless v. Innovative Wireless Solutions Complaint]

Cisco’s complaint, filed in the Western District of Texas (where Rackspace has chosen to take on noted NPE Parallel Iron in another DJ action), includes some particularly harsh words for IWS —
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As many of you are aware, a non-practicing entity named Innovatio IP Ventures has been engaged in a widespread licensing and litigation campaign over WiFi-related patents that were formerly owned by Broadcom.  As a result, Innovatio has become embroiled in litigation with several suppliers of WiFi-compliant devices (Cisco, Motorola Solutions, Netgear) in the Northern District of Illinois.  A few weeks ago, we noted that a debate had arisen in that case over the “essentiality” of certain asserted patents.  The presiding judge ordered briefing on the issue, and Innovatio filed its “Essentiality Brief” a couple weeks ago — asserting that not all of its asserted claims were essential or covered by IEEE RAND obligations.  This past Friday, the WiFi Suppliers filed their response to Innovatio’s Essentiality Brief.  The WiFi Suppliers accuse Innovatio of misconstruing both the IEEE Patent Policy and the relevant RAND licensing Letters of Assurance in an attempt to avoid its RAND obligations.

[2013.05.10 Defendants’ Brief re Essentiality of Patent Claims]

We alluded in our last post on this matter that issues of patent “essentiality” — and therefore, the scope of corresponding RAND obligations — are likely to become a more common issue in standard-essential patent litigation.  The WiFi Suppliers’ responsive brief demonstrates why.


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Last week we covered the dispute between Innovatio IP Ventures and Cisco, Motorola Solutions, and NETGEAR (the “WiFi Suppliers”) over the essentiality and non-essentiality of various 802.11-related patent claims asserted by Innovatio.  The WiFi suppliers argued that all of Innovatio’s asserted patents were essential to the 802.11 family of wireless networking standards, and therefore subject to IEEE RAND obligations.  For its part, Innovatio disputed whether dozens of claims were in fact essential.

Late last week, Innovatio filed a brief supporting its arguments regarding the non-essentiality of certain asserted claims [LINK].  Innovatio argues that the WiFi Suppliers fail to apply the IEEE’s Patent Policy in making their determination of essentiality, rendering their contentions incorrect.


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An issue that often comes up in standard-essential patent litigation is “essentiality” — whether the asserted claims are actually necessary to practice the technological standard that forms the basis of the infringement allegations.  This is important for at least two reasons: first, because if the claim is not actually necessary to practice the standard, an implementer could (at least theoretically) design around the patent to create a non-infringing implementation of the standard; and second, because the RAND obligations set forth in the patent policies of many SSOs are often limited only to truly “essential” patent claims.

This issue of essentiality has come to the forefront in the ongoing multidistrict litigation between non-practicing entity Innovatio and several WiFi suppliers (Cisco, Motorola Solutions, and Netgear).  You may recall that Innovatio, in winning (in part) a motion to dismiss some unfair competition and RICO claims, had argued that many of the asserted claims are not actually “Essential Patent Claims” as defined by the IEEE — and therefore cannot be subject to any existing RAND obligation.  Earlier this month, the court ordered the parties to meet and confer and submit a joint statement regarding disputes over whether, based on Innovatio’s infringement contentions, the asserted claims of Innovatio’s patents are actually essential to the IEEE 802.11 wireless networking standard.  Yesterday, the parties submitted their stipulation regarding the essentiality of Innvatio’s asserted patent claims.
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In recent posts, we covered the briefs submitted by Samsung and Apple and the ITC Staff in response to the U.S. International Trade Commission’s request for additional briefing in Inv. No. 337-TA-794.  We noted that several other parties also submitted responses, offering their views on how an exclusion order in this case might affect the public interest.  These parties include:

Each of these parties warns the ITC that allowing exclusion orders for FRAND-pledged standard-essential patents may have adverse effects on U.S. consumers and the U.S. economy, particularly future standards-setting activity.  A brief summary of these public interest submissions is after the jump.
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Last month, Judge James F. Holderman dismissed various claims brought by Cisco, Motorola Solutions, and NETGEAR against Innovatio IP Ventures, LLC over Innovatio’s vast licensing and litigation campaign relating to the IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi standard.  These suppliers claimed that Innovatio — in threatening the suppliers’ customers and bringing litigation over standard-essential patents — violated various unfair competition laws, and even the Federal Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”).  But the court found that Innovatio’s conduct was protected petitioning activity under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine, and that the suppliers did not properly plead that the conduct was a “sham” that would exempt this activity from protection.  Yesterday, the suppliers filed a motion for entry of final judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), which indicates that the suppliers want to appeal the dismissal of these claims as soon as possible to keep the heat on Innovatio.
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gavelWe’ve previously discussed the wide-ranging assertion activities of Innovatio IP Ventures LLC, a non-practicing entity that has targeted thousands of companies across the country over patents related to the IEEE 802.11 wireless networking (Wi-Fi) standard.  And due to an amended complaint filed in October 2012 by Motorola Solutions, Cisco, and Netgear in the Northern District of Illinois, Innovatio has been facing a litany of charges relating to this licensing and litigation campaign.  These charges include breach of contractual RAND obligations, state law unfair competition, civil conspiracy, and even violation of the federal civil RICO statute.  In November, Innovatio moved to dismiss these claims.  This week, Chief Judge James F. Holderman granted much of Innovatio’s motion, dismissing all of the claims except for the RAND-based breach of contract and promissory estoppel claims.  This ruling is indicative of the substantial hurdles that potential licensees of standard-essential patents face in attempting to show when patent holders’ assertion of rights and licensing demands may cross legal boundaries — and it may also further muddy the already murky waters surrounding the scope of RAND obligations.
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