Texas monetization firm IP Edge LLC has filed suit over another of the former Cypress Semiconductor patents received from Monterey Research, LLC in November 2020. Mallard IP LLC has accused Inspur Systems (2:21-cv-01332) and Super Micro Computer (6:21-cv-01011) of infringing the patent—generally related to a "programmable digital circuit block"—through the incorporation of DDR4 SDRAMs within their NF3120M5 and SuperServer E300-9D servers, respectively. As a formal matter, the new cases do not constitute a new campaign, as Heritage IP LLC, another apparent IP Edge plaintiff, is already litigating another patent in the same family, suing Fossil (1:21-cv-01401) and Nintendo (2:21-cv-01333) just last week.
The '330 patent issued to Cypress in August 2003 as part of a family with more than 50 members, only a few of which were among the 17 assets assigned to IP Edge entity Spearhead IP LLC in November 2020. Currently available USPTO records suggest that the other members of the family are still held by either Monterey Research, a subsidiary of Vector Capital's IPValue Management (d/b/a IPValue), or Cypress, which was acquired by Infineon Technologies in April 2020. These new cases appear to mark the '330 patent's debut in litigation.
The other patent from this same family (6,854,067) is broadly directed to microcontrollers with "power on reset" (PoR) circuits. It was transferred in a portfolio of six from Monterey Research to IP Edge entity Spindletop IP LLC, which later moved the asset, as well as a second patent (7,221,200), in separate May 2020 assignments, to Heritage IP for assertion in litigation. The document filed with the USPTO to substantiate that assignment lists five US issued patents to be transferred, as well as related patents or applications, including any foreign counterparts. The '200 patent is on that list. The '067 patent is later included in the assets transferred but excluded from those patents subject to the wider grant (of related patents/application/foreign counterparts).
Heritage IP asserted both the '067 and '200 patents in early 2020 cases, one of which was against an NXP customer, prompting an NXP complaint for declaratory judgment against Heritage IP. NXP filed a quick motion to dismiss under Alice, which was briefed but never resolved, as the parties subsequently settled. After that, Heritage IP has switched to asserting only the '067 patent, hitting Canon, Tanita, TDK, Tile, and VivaChek Laboratories with cases that have already closed and suing Boston Scientific, Fossil, Gimbal, Hilti, and Nintendo in cases that remain active.
Heritage IP's recent infringement allegations focus on the incorporation of certain ARM Cortex M0-based microcontrollers, which features certain dynamic power management capabilities, within the accused devices—for example, against Fossil and Nintendo, within smart watches and the Pokemon GO PLUS accessory, respectively. In its motion for judgment on the pleadings, NXP challenged claim 1 of the '067 patent under Alice as patent-ineligibly drawn to the abstract idea of "gathering information, analyzing it, and 'doing something' in response"—here, "communicating information regarding a power supply". As RPX has reported in more detail, Heritage IP opposed every aspect of that motion, before the case settled.
NXP was not the only defendant to file such a motion. August Home did as well, as did VivaChek, the latter among the most recently dismissed defendants. The putative abstract idea in that motion is "gathering, analyzing, and communication information", with VivaChek noting that IP Edge's repeated use of a declaration from David Hartup, "a faculty member and professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at Miami University in Ohio" to defend against Alice challenges may have led to some bookkeeping errors. The copy of the declaration that Heritage IP attached to combat the motion in the VivaChek case suggests that Hartup was "retained by Unicorn Global . . . and Hangzhou Chic Intelligent Technology", rather than by Heritage IP itself, "to provide [his] expert opinion in relation to the above matter" (under a caption for the August Home suit). Nevertheless, the motion was again briefed and left unresolved by a joint stipulation of dismissal with prejudice, filed on September 20.
As this pattern would suggest, IP Edge plaintiffs typically litigate in file-and-settle fashion, having never taken a case to trial—until an evidentiary hearing before the International Trade Commission (ITC) recently concluded. A final initial determination has yet to issue. For more about IP Edge and that more advanced campaign (filed by Q3 Networking LLC against CommScope, HP Enterprise (HPE) (Aruba Networks), and NETGEAR), see "IP Edge Continues Litigating Former Siemens Patents, Including Through Recently Concluded ITC Hearing" (August 2021).
IP Edge has been, by far, the top NPE plaintiff over the past five years by campaign defendants added. Over the course of 2021, the Texas monetization firm has been adding defendants to its over 130 litigation campaigns at a clip of roughly 50 per month. 9/30, Fossil, District of Delaware; Super Micro Computer, Western District of Texas; Inspur, Nintendo, Western District of Washington.
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