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10.20.17

Patent Trolls Roundup: BlackBerry, Dominion Harbor, IPNav, IP Bridge

Posted in America, Asia, Patents at 12:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A quick review of recent news regarding patent trolls or entities which resemble (and sometimes feed) these

THE plague of patent trolls may be going away. We shall say more about it in the weekend.

BlackBerry is, quite unfortunately, becoming little more than a patent troll these days. That strategy isn’t even going too well anymore. The person behind it has left (maybe got fired). Having filed some lawsuits in Texas, BlackBerry may be affected by TC Heartland and this new report says it’s “At Risk Of Losing Its Recurring BLU Royalty” (covered here recently).

“It was not clear if that payment was included in that quarter’s earnings,” it says, “which beat analysts’ forecast on a jump in licensing fees that includes patent payouts and royalties on BlackBerry-branded devices and software sold by others.”

As we have been showing lately, BlackBerry’s income nosedived. It cannot survive by just suing and threatening to sue companies. Eventually, perhaps inevitably, BlackBerry will go bankrupt and its patents be sold to classic patent trolls like Dominion Harbor, which is connected to the world’s largest troll, having bought Kodak’s patents from it. What we did not know until yesterday is that Dominion Harbor, which publicly defames me, is also connected to IPNav in the following way. To quote IAM:

Korean sovereign patent fund Intellectual Discovery (ID) has continued its recent trend of selling assets to US licensing entities, with the disposal of a package of 15 US patents to a company called Compact Lens Technologies LLC. The transaction was recorded on the USPTO assignment database earlier this month.

The buyer appears to be controlled by IP Valuation Partners, a Texas-based IP advisory business led by a group of former IPNav and Dominion Harbor executives. Jonathan Szarzynski, whose name is listed on the assignment document is, according to this site, the manager of Compact Lens Technologies. The portfolio of assets relates to camera lens technology.

[...]

That has led to the emergence of companies like Dominion Harbor, which was formed in 2013 by a group of former IPNav execs and in February was involved in one of the biggest deals of the year so far when it acquired a portfolio of around 4000 former Kodak assets from Intellectual Ventures. With several large patent owners like ID and IV looking to dispose of assets the new breed of private NPEs are certainly not struggling for buying opportunities.

So basically, Koreans have collected a lot of patents in vain and now they just give these to patent trolls in the US. These patents will go to a very nasty blackmail and extortion firm.

Japan is meanwhile learning to recognise this profound issue with trolls (already a growing problem in China, as we shall explain in the weekend) and is tackling the SEP trap, which is basically a patent thicket that’s anticompetitive by design. IAM’s puff piece isn’t too happy about it (law firms in Japan), but it’s clear that such a move would benefit the economy and the interests of Japanese people.

IAM’s blog is meanwhile celebrating a patent bully from Japan which targets S.E.A. and notably Malaysia. They are pursuing a patent tax on "IoT" and other such things (software patents in disguise). To quote:

Japanese patent fund IP Bridge today announced plans to launch a $50 million “Intellectual property and innovation” fund with Malaysian partners. The new entity will invest in national and regional enterprises in Malaysia that are “IP rich or to-be-rich”, with a particular focus on technology areas including IoT. The fund’s goals echo those of another major investment vehicle founded in Singapore earlier this year, suggesting that we may yet see more money poured into the region’s IP ecosystem.

[...]

On the patent side of its business, IP Bridge recently announced a new assignment to its IP fund by an unnamed Japanese corporate. Recent USPTO assignment records show that the source of the patents – which are related to the H.264/AVC and H.265/HEVC standards – was Seiko Epson, which transferred at least six granted US assets to IP Bridge in late August. Another recent recordal indicates that the fund received 10 US patents from Avago (now known as Broadcom), possibly as part of the two parties’ recent settlement after US and China assertions by the NPE.

“NPE” is just a euphemism for troll. The US is full of patent trolls and many are moving to or emerging in China these days. Japan is hopefully wise enough to combat this issue before it even surfaces.

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