Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sony, Bluebonnet Settle Call Forwarding Patent Suit

Case Filed: Jun 18, 2013

Case Closed: May 15, 2014

Judge: Rodney Gilstrap

Court: Texas Eastern District Court

Case Summary:
Longview, Texas-based telecommunications company, Bluebonnet sued Sony for patent infringement in relation to call forwarding feature that the company claims to have patented in 1996.

The patent US5485511 entitled ‘Method and apparatus for determining the telephony features assigned to a telephone,’ issued on Jan 16, 1996 and expires[i] by Sep 08, 2014. Bluebonnet is the current assignee[ii] of the patent (source: MaxVal’s Assignment Database) and originally assigned by Siemens Rolm Communications.

The patent describes a phone communicating with a central switch to generate a list of options, which are then displayed for the user.

As in complaint:
Bluebonnet alleged that Sony manufactured products and/or systems including Xperia Arc S that infringed one or more claims of the ‘511 patent.

Additionally, Bluebonnet accused Sony of inducing users to violate the patent by, (1) providing instructions to their customers that explain how to use the features of the accused devices (specifically those features that allow call forwarding and the display of whether the feature is activated), and (2) by touting the accused features of the smartphone.

The telecommunications company also accused Sony of taking “inadequate steps to determine whether it would be infringing the intellectual property rights of others” and being “willfully blind to the existence of the 511 patent.”

Bluebonnet sought a permanent injunction that would prevent Sony from infringing on its patent and a judgment that Sony accounts for and pays to Bluebonnet all damages and costs incurred because of Sony’s infringing activities.

Case conclusion:
Bluebonnet and Sony announced to the court that they have resolved the case amongst themselves. Therefore the parties requested that the court dismiss claims against Sony with prejudice and counterclaims against Bluebonnet without prejudice.

Accordingly, the court granted the motion and ordered attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses taxed be incurred by the parties themselves.

Other cases by BlueBonnet:
Since 2013, Bluebonnet has filed a pile of suits against companies such as Apple, Motorola, Google, Sony, and more claiming call forwarding technology.

See 2:13-cv-00505 for more details. To get alerts on cases filed/closed, subscribe to our Litigation Alerts.
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[i] Expected expiration date. Patent Term Estimator is a free web-based tool that automatically calculates patent terms and expiration dates for U.S. utility patents.
[ii] MaxVal offers Patent Assignment Alert service where subscribers receive email alerts when assignments relating to target applications, patents or entities of interest are recorded.

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