Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Toshiba, Vizio Win Lochner Computer Patent Suit; Appeal Court Remands

Case Filed: Aug 07, 2013
Case Closed: Jun 27, 2014
Origin Case: 8:12-cv-01659
Case Summary:
Texas-based non-practicing entity, Lochner Technologies sued many internet and technology firms including Apple, Cisco, Samsung, Google, Nokia, Vizio, and others over an U.S. patent involving a technique for interconnecting multiple computers, which remain at fixed locations. Other defendants named in the suit were: RIM, Acer, Motorola, HTC, LG, Sony, Panasonic, Roku, NEC, ASUS, Toshiba, Casio, ViewSonic, Unisys and Amazon. The suit was filed in Oct 2012 in California Central District Court.
The suit revolved around the patent: US7035598 entitled ‘Modular computer system,’ issued by USPTO to inventors: Scott Lochner and Meir Bartur on Apr 25, 2006 and expired[i] on Sep 13, 2013. Lochner was the last assignee[ii] of the patent (source: MaxVal’s Assignment Database). The ‘598 patent relates to computers and is aimed at providing freedom of movement for a user in operating a computing device in a network and enhancing the possibilities of sharing a single computer system by multiple users.
As in Complaint:
Lochner alleged that defendants infringed the ’598 patent by designing products such as smartphones and tablet computers that wirelessly play streaming video from servers. Some of the products cited were: iPhone, Cius, PlayBooks, Iconia, Galaxy, Droid Bionic, WildFire S, Flyer, Revolution, Nexus, Xperia, Toughbook, Tablet S and P, Eee Slates, Thrives, G’zOne Commando, ViewPads, etc.
Plaintiff requested judgment in favor declaring that each defendant has willfully infringed resulting in enhanced damages and a jury trial.
District Court Proceedings:
In 2011, Unisys was terminated from the case due to voluntary dismissal filed by Lochner. In the following year, claims against Cisco, RIM, Acer, Samsung, Motorola, HTC, LG, Google, Nokia, Sony, Panasonic, Sony, Roku, ASUS, ViewSonic, Amazon and NEC were dismissed with prejudice. In 2013, a joint motion to dismiss Apple and Casio was filed resulting in dismissal of the parties with prejudice.
Vizio and Toshiba filed counterclaims seeking a declaration that the ’598 patent is not infringed and invalid. In Jul 2013, after considering evidence, arguments and all other matters, court entered judgment in favor of defendants, granting motion for summary judgment of invalidity of ‘598 patent. The court ordered:
  • asserted claims of the ’598 patent are invalid for lack of adequate written description and failure to claim what the applicant regards as his invention
  • counterclaims are dismissed without prejudice
  • defendants are entitled to recover costs incurred.
Appeal Court:
In Aug 2013, Lochner appealed district court’s final judgment favoring Vizio and Toshiba. Appeal court concluded that the district court erred in its claim construction analysis of the term “input-output system.” Appeal court vacated district court’s decision on finding the asserted claims as invalid and remanded for further proceedings consistent with new claim construction.
Other Cases:
Lochner has filed nearly a dozen cases since 2009 against Dell, Barnes & Noble, AT Labs etc. asserting the same patent.
See 2013-1551 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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