Sony Corporation recently filed a patent infringement lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Japanese photography and imaging company Fujifilm. At the center of Sony’s legal action are magnetic tape products marketed by Fujifilm which allegedly practice technology copied from Sony without a license.
In the official complaint filed by Sony, the company asserts a series of four patents, which it alleges Fujifilm infringed through the sale of the company’s Linear Tape-Open (LTO) format magnetic tapes, specifically generation four, five and six LTO tapes (LTO-4, LTO-5, LTO-6).
In July 2010, MONKEYmedia filed a lawsuit for patent infringement in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas (W.D. Tex.). The initial suit targeted American consumer tech giant Apple Inc. (amongst others) and targeted Apple’s use of user interfaces for document summarizations, video players and RSS readers which are capable of displaying multiple versions of text and/or audiovisual content.
MONKEYmedia’s complaint included five patents-in-suit:
- U.S. Patent No. 6177938, titled Computer User Interface with Non-Salience Deemphasis. It claimed a computerized system including a computer with a means for selectively shrinking the display of a first segment of objects to emphasize a second segment.
- U.S. Patent No. 6219052, same title as above. It claims a similar computerized system including a means for transforming a displayed object into shrunken and non-shrunken segments.
- U.S. Patent No. 6335730, same title. It also claims a computerized system using a relativity controller to selectively shrink a segment of objects and a scroll bar which changes in response to relativity controller activity.
- U.S. Patent No. 6393158, titled Method and Storage Device for Expanding and Contracting Continuous Play Media Seamlessly. It discloses a method for playing stored content which includes providing links to expansion content as the stored content plays.
- U.S. Patent No. 7467218, same title as ‘158 patent. It protects a computer-readable medium storing instructions to display content, provide links to expansion content and determine when such a link has been selected.
Six years of litigation later, an order of dismissal was filed indicating that both parties had settled their respective claims for relief filed in the case. A joint stipulation of dismissal was filed stating that both parties had stipulated to the dismissal of all claims and counter-claims asserted against each other. This comes about a year after MONKEYmedia had settled similar patent infringement claims against Sony Corporation, developer of the Blu-ray digital content standard which takes advantage of seamless expansion technologies covered by MONKEYmedia’s patents.
The defendants subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment of non-infringement of the ‘158 patent, the final patent remaining in the suit after patent reexaminations at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In the motion for summary judgment, the defendants argue four points supporting their claim of non-infringement. First, they note that bonus content is available for an entire movie, not just segments of that movie. Second, the defendants argue that there are no expansion links in the movie content as defined by the claims of the ‘158 patent. Third, there is no fixed link from an expansion content to a continuing segment, so if a viewer wants to stop a movie to watch bonus content, that viewer has to actively choose to resume the movie. Finally, there are no cues to the bonus content which appear during the course of the movie; viewers must actively open menus and seek the content for themselves. The motion also includes definitions of Blu-ray technology features and descriptions of user interactions with those features by an expert witness, Mark R. Johnson.
MONKEYmedia filed a response in opposition to the summary judgment filed by the defendants. The response argues that the defendants are seeking a decision on the case “based on little more than the Court’s claim construction ruling, and without any evidence of non-infringement.” MONKEYmedia notes that, while Johnson’s expert witness declaration was attached to the motion, the witness did not put forward an actual opinion regarding non-infringement so much as a collection of observations made while watching a series of discs. The defendants’ assertion that the “links” and “segments” in Blu-ray content aren’t covered by claims of the ‘158 patent is based on an attorney argument and not by a qualified expert.
The case continues, but without Apple or Sony; both have now settled.
Earlier this year Walker Digital (of Priceline.com fame) sued Sony and others for infringement a patent claiming an apparatus for providing information to a customer about a video program. Sony has now replied to that suit by requesting reexamination of theWalker patent (see ex parte Request No. (10)).
Reexamination was also requested for three more Round Rock Research patents, related to different technologies (see ex parteRequest Nos. (2), (3) & (4)). Round Rock bought the three patents from Micron. It is not yet clear who has filed these reexamination requests for patents not involved in litigation. (more…)
An unidentified party has sought reexamination of 3M’s U.S. Patent No. 7,078,128 for cathode compositions for lithium-ion batteries (see ex parte Request No. (10)). The ‘128 patent was the subject of an ITC investigation against Sony and others in 2007, which ended in settlements. No reexamination has yet been requested against3M’s U.S. Patent No. 6,964,828 that was also in the ITC’s investigation.
In March Google requested reexamination U.S. Patent No. 6,981,040 in response to an infringement allegation by the ‘040 patentee, Personalized User Model (PUM). Now, Google has requested reexamination of U.S. Patent No. 7,685,276 (see inter partes Request No. 3), the other PUM patent-in-suit.
Requests were also filed against three Hewlett-Packard patents for circuits and switches (see ex parte Request Nos. (11), (12) & (13)). (more…)
Sony has requested reexamination of Tessera’s U.S. Patent No. 6,885,106 for stacking semiconductors (see inter partes Request No. (9)). The ‘106 patent is one of a large portfolio of chip-packaging patents that Tessera has successfully enforced over the past decade.
Other Requests involving semiconductor patents were a filed by Cypress Semiconductor against an Agilent patent and by Everspin against a Nexedge patent (see inter partes Request Nos. (7) & (8)).
Also of commercial significance was a reexamination requested by A123 against a Hydro-Quebec patent for lithium batteries (see inter partes Request No. (4)). The companies are in litigation in the Northern District of Texas over that patent. (more…)