Please join the Essential Patent Blog and Kelley Drye & Warren LLP for a complimentary webinar on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 12:00pm Eastern to discuss the import of Judge Holderman’s recent RAND decision in the In re Innovatio IP Ventures, LLC Patent Litigation. Judge Holderman’s October 3rd decision is only the second U.S. district
Today the court posted the public version of Judge Holderman’s 89-page ruling on what constitutes RAND for Innovatio’s WiFi patents — posted much sooner than anticipated in our earlier post. The court applied a modified version of Judge Robart’s methodology to determine the RAND rate to be paid by manufacturers of WiFi equipment for…
The sprawling patent infringement action in the Northern District of Illinois involving Innovatio IP Ventures is often in the headlines not because it involves standard-essential patents, but because it involves (in part) patent infringement claims brought by a non-practicing entity (Innovatio) against “end users” (coffee shops, hotels, restaurants, etc.). But last Friday, Judge James F. Holderman issued a ruling that may be the first of its kind for a district court — a ruling addressing the “essentiality” of patent claims, separate and apart from the issue of infringement. If you’re not familiar with this case (and even if you are), bear with us — we’ll try to explain just why this ruling is so “essential” (sorry).
Warning — this is going to be a long post.
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.
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.
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.
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.…
- A couple weeks back, we noted a bid by Cisco, Motorola Solutions, and NETGEAR to expedite an appeal of their unsuccessful unfair competition claims against non-practicing entity Innovatio IP Ventures LLC. At a status hearing yesterday, however, Chief Judge James F. Holderman of the Northern District of Illinois denied the parties’ motion for entry of
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.…
We’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.…
Because so many SEP-related issues have arisen over the past year, we will periodically revisit some of the more noteworthy occurrences with a brief post. In this post, we explore recent and ongoing patent assertion activities of Innovatio IP Ventures, LLC.
On February 28, 2011, Broadcom Corporation assigned 31 U.S. patents to a company named Innovatio IP Ventures, LLC. After acquiring these patents, Innovatio then sent letters to thousands of entities – including restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, grocery stores – alleging infringement of these patents, which Innovatio claimed to be essential to the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard. Innovatio sought royalties from these entities, reportedly seeking $2500-3000 from each outlet for a license to the patents. When negotiations broke down, Innovatio also filed lawsuits against dozens of these entities, claiming they infringed the patents through their respective use of products that comply with the 802.11 standard.