Monday
Mar102014

UK Pleadings

Monday
Mar102014

German Pleading

Monday
Feb242014

February 24 2014 Update

We are updating our Blog Post from January 30th regarding our pending case in Delaware. Here is what we said in January:

    

Apple/RIM – District Court of Delaware

  • This case corresponds to the ITC case from 2012.
  • The case is now moving forward under Judge Andrews in Delaware.
  • Single claim term Markman hearing took place November 2013. An order could issue at any time now.
  • The Markman result will most likely determine if we move forward to trial or move to the appellate level regarding claim construction.

Our original blog posting concerning this assertion occurred on October 8, 2012, following the ITC ruling.


UPDATE: On Wednesday, February 19, 2014, Judge Andrews issued a Memorandum Opinion regarding the results of the claim construction hearing, a copy of which can be found here. We are disappointed that Judge Andrews has held that a disavowal of subject matter exists. This is an appealable issue, and one we may pursue if necessary. However, Judge Andrews has also stated that his claim construction is not intended to exclude embodiments in which the computer module is a microcontroller. We are evaluating this new information to determine what next steps are appropriate.

This result has no bearing on unrelated patent families, including all of those currently asserted in our other matters.

Thursday
Jan302014

January 30 2014 Update

Today we are providing an update on activity taking place at Unwired Planet. This post continues from our October update. As previously stated, we have divided our activities into four categories: Licensing, Technology, Portfolio/Prosecution & Enforcement. Following is an update on each.

I. Licensing

We continue to pursue 27 companies across our 3 core markets (Mobile Devices, Mobile Cloud & Services and Network Infrastructure) and we are in the process of contacting more. Several of these conversations have moved beyond technology discussion and into preliminary pricing and deal terms. We have established very reasonable and justifiable royalty rates in view of the scope of our portfolio. Thus far, however, our potential licensees have suggested rates reflecting a different view of the world, and in particular a suppressed value for mobility patents in general. None of our conversations have yet reached a conclusion.

The recent announcement (License announcement) of a global patent cross-license agreement between Ericsson and Samsung is a positive development for our prospects. The cross license agreement covers patents relating to GSM, UMTS, and LTE standards for both networks and handsets. Ericsson, the largest and most important holder of LTE and other standard essential patents, reaching a deal with Samsung, the largest mobile device manufacture in the world, should have an “unlocking” effect on LTE licensing. Smaller OEMs can now more easily benchmark and justify license deals internally, and the significant value of LTE innovation, as well as the risks and inefficiencies of widespread litigation, is demonstrated notwithstanding widespread rhetoric to the contrary. We believe this result is one more piece of evidence that Ericsson’s R&D and its contributions to the wireless network standards is top-of-the-line and we are proud to have been associated with their legacy since as far back as 1996.

 

II. Technology

According to an Ericsson mobility report (Report) there will be 2.6 Billion LTE subscriptions in 2019. As we mentioned in our October Blog, we are monitoring developments beyond mobile phones that will certainly contribute to this projected growth.

In this year’s CES, connected cars were in the spotlight -- both Audi and GM introduced LTE offerings (Bill Howard's article). According to statements made in CES, Audi’s 2015 A3 family will get advanced navigation; Facebook and Twitter alerts; access to more than 7,000 Web radio stations; and personalized RSS news feeds via AT&T’s LTE network. Up to eight devices can also access the Internet over the in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot, according to the German car maker. To connect, owners can add their car to an existing AT&T smartphone or tablet data plan. Next, Audi plans to roll out LTE connectivity across its entire lineup as new or refreshed models come to the market (PC World article). Chevrolet announced that the 2015 Corvette, Impala, Malibu and Volt models will be equipped with optional 4G LTE connectivity. Most of the Chevrolet roster will have built-in connectivity by the end of 2014, said Alan Batey, Executive VP for the brand, "the largest selection of cars available with built-in 4G LTE, from our smallest car, the Spark, right through to the Corvette Stingray (Hollywood reporter article).

Also OEMs and LTE platform providers were active at CES. As an example, Lenovo launched their first LTE compatible phone, Vibe Z (Gigaom article). New LTE models were also introduced by Huawei and Samsung.

Broadcom showed off its M320 SoC, which was based on the Renesas SoC platform. M320 combines two ARM Cortex A9 CPUs clocked between 1.2 and 1.5 GHz, PowerVR 5XT GPU, and Cat 4 LTE modem with DC-HSPA+ and GSM multimode capabilities (Anandtech news). Mediatek announced the availability of a multimode LTE modem chipset. The chip implements FDD and TDD (Frequency Division Duplex and Time Division Duplex) modes of LTE for broad compatibility with mobile operator networks worldwide. In addition to LTE, the MT6290 also supports DC-HSPA+, W-CDMA, TD-SCDMA, EDGE and GSM/GPRS radio technologies. Mediatek predicts that the first commercial devices are expected in Q2 2014 (Telecom Tiger article).

We expect to see new mid- and low-tier LTE phones by Mobile World Congress in February in Barcelona, Spain and more announcements from LTE platform manufacturers like Broadcom, Mediatek and Intel, adding much needed diversity in the market.

 

III. Portfolio/Prosecution

In December, we received a valuable portfolio of additional patents from Ericsson, reflecting their agreed-upon annual contribution to Unwired Planet. The portfolio we received this year includes a total of 24 patent families, consisting of 126 total assets (95 issued patents, 31 pending applications). 3 of these families are standard essential to LTE, bringing our total number of standard essential families to 43.

Overall Portfolio Prosecution Statistics -- 30 September 2013 to 30 December 2013

Number of Office Actions Received – 34
Number of Office Actions Responded – 21
Number of Search Reports received – 11
Number of Search Opinions Responded – 1

Number of Foreign Acceptances (not yet issued) – 1
Number of US Acceptances (not yet issued) – 8
Number of EP allowances (not yet issued) – 3

Number of US Issued – 9
Number of EP Issued - 23
Number of Foreign Issued - 3

TOTAL Granted – 35

Total Portfolio Count (including additional contribution): 2618

   Total Issued Patents = 2331
   Total Pending Applications = 287
   Total USA Assets = 1066
   Total Foreign Assets = 1552

US Post Grant Proceedings Summary

Pending Inter Partes Reexams – 1
Pending Broadening Reissues – 4
Pending Self-Initiated Reexams – 1
Inter Partes Review – 3 pending petitions, not yet initiated
Covered Business Method – 3 pending petitions, not yet initiated

 

IV. Enforcement

Below is a brief summary of each of our pending enforcement actions, all of which had significant developments over the past several months:

Apple – District Court of Nevada / Northern District of California

  • Assigned to Judge Yvonne Rogers in Oakland, CA. Scheduling Hearing took place on January 6th.
  • To expedite matters, Judge Rogers ruled that we must move forward to claim construction with 10 patent claims (from our 70 pending claims) for the time being, but we maintain our rights on other patents and claims.
  • As such, we have selected 10 claims from 5 patents for this first action and the Markman Hearing (for these first 10 claims) is set for May 14th.
  • We are pleasantly surprised with this opportunity to move forward quickly, even if we need to repeat the process for additional patents and claims later.

Google – District Court of Nevada

  • Google’s motion to transfer to Northern District of California was denied in August. Google sought reconsideration of the transfer decision and that was also denied.
  • Google filed 3 re-examinations and sought a partial stay of the case (with respect to 3 of the 10 patents in the case). The partial stay was recently granted, so we will move forward with the remaining patents in the case. It is unclear whether the other 3 patents will be severed for a separate subsequent trial.
  • Markman hearing is set for July 22nd.
  • Our trial has not yet been scheduled but our best estimate at the moment is Calendar Q1 ’15.
  • Significant briefing and discovery activity related to the merits of the case is ongoing.

Apple/RIM – District Court of Delaware

  • This case corresponds to the ITC case from 2012.
  • The case is now moving forward under Judge Andrews in Delaware.
  • Single claim term Markman hearing took place November 2013. An order could issue at any time now.
  • The Markman result will most likely determine if we move forward to trial or move to the appellate level regarding claim construction.

Square – District Court of Nevada

  • Judge Jones has been initially assigned to this matter.
  • Square filed a motion to transfer in December and we responded.
  • A scheduling conference is expected in February.
Thursday
Oct312013

October 2014 Update

Today we are providing an update on activity taking place at Unwired Planet. This post continues from our August update. We have divided our activities into four categories: Licensing, Technology, Prosecution & Enforcement. Following is an update on each.

I. Licensing

We continue to pursue 27 companies across our 3 core markets (Mobile Devices, Mobile Cloud & Services and Network Infrastructure). We are negotiating in earnest with approximately 20 companies.

On the negative side, we have detected a significant value gap between what we are being offered for licenses and what we believe the portfolio to be worth. Among the causes, 3 macro factors stand out to us:

A. LTE essential licensing has not yet coalesced. In the patent licensing world, LTE deployment on a wide scale is still a relatively recent phenomenon. It takes time for such a market to form and become stable.

B. Many OEMs are in a weakened state. Companies like Blackberry, HTC and NOKIA have struggled to maintain their position. We, like many, would prefer to see a healthier market full of diversity and competition.

C. The current uncertain and unfavorable political environment and certain case law related to standard essential patents has, for now, emboldened licensees to take reduced positions on royalty values.

On the positive side, we believe the technology reflected in our patents is holding up in these discussions. We believe the value of our portfolio to be genuinely significant and are unwilling to accept royalties that diminish that value for our shareholders. At the same time, we are taking a measured and realistic approach in our pricing and believe that, over time, our model will come to fruition. It may require additional enforcement activity, as well as further maturity in the LTE essential licensing market.

 

II. Technology

In addition to licensing in the mobile handset market, we are monitoring market developments and applications of our patents in other areas, including:

  • Transceiver (Cellular and WiFi)
  • Antenna
  • User Interface
  • Power Management (battery)
  • RF Shielding

Our first main focus area has been antennas. In today’s market, cellular phones, especially smartphones, have to support multiple bands. Planar inverted-F antennas (PIFA) using switchable feeds are one of the most common antenna types used in mobile handsets. Switchable feeds help support multiple frequency bands using the same conductive element, and does not increase the thickness of the antenna. Unwired Planet holds a number of patents relevant to such PIFA technology and we are in the process of evaluating some of the currently popular models.

To date, the LTE business has been mainly driven by Qualcomm chipsets since they have been more or less the only supplier of LTE capable platforms for OEMs. On October 1st, Broadcomm completed the acquisition of LTE-related assets from affiliates of Renesas Electronics Corp. As Broadcom says, the acquisition is expected to accelerate availability of Broadcom's multimode, carrier-validated LTE SoC platform. Additionally, Intel is heavily investing to get their LTE capable solutions to the market e.g. by acquiring additional LTE expertise from Fujitsu. We believe that these developments will help OEMs introduce new and diverse LTE models to the market with healthier margins.

Another development we are monitoring is the fact that cellular connectivity will be included in markets beyond mobile phones. An example of an interesting business segment is connected cars. According to a new market report published by Transparency Market Research "Connected Car Market -Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2013- 2019," the global connected car market is expected to reach USD 131.9 billion by 2019, growing at a CAGR of 34.7% from 2013 to 2019. LTE/4G technology is in a commanding position due to the lower operating costs associated with high data transmission volumes as compared to other technologies. Tesla just recently announced that every car connects to Internet through AT&T Wireless. Audi has their Audi Connect® Service and other manufacturers are also announcing their plans to embed cellular connectivity to their cars.

On the Mobile Cloud & Services arena, positive technology trends we are watching that support our prospects include:

 

III. Prosecution

From 30 June 2013 to 30 September

  • Number of Office Actions Received – 25
  • Number of Office Actions Responded – 22
  • Number of Search Reports received – 2
  • Number of Search Opinions Responded – 4
  • Number of Foreign Acceptances (not yet issued) – 3
  • Number of US Acceptances (not yet issued) – 8
  • Number of EP allowances (not yet issued) – 2
  • Number of US Issued – 5
  • Number of EP Issued - 27
  • Number of Foreign Issued - 7
  • TOTAL Granted – 39

 

  • Newly filed apps – 13
  • Abandoned – 1
  • Patents expired – 3
  • Total Portfolio
  • Total Issued Patents = 2204
  • Total Pending Applications = 267

 

US Post Grant Proceedings Summary

  • Pending Inter Partes Reexams – 1
  • Pending Broadening Reissues – 4
  • Inter Partes Review – 3 pending petitions, not yet initiated
  • Covered Business Method – 3 pending petitions, not yet initiated

It has been an active quarter in regards to post-grant activity. In the single pending Inter Partes Reexamination, RIM filed a response to our arguments, and we are currently awaiting the Examiner to act on this case. Additionally, one of our pending Broadening Reissue applications issued into RE 44,513, while two others were consolidated into a single pending reissue, and currently stands allowed. We also took the opportunity to file a continuation Broadening Reissue application. For our two remaining pending Broadening Reissue applications, one currently has a rejection for which we are preparing a response, and the second one currently has non-prior art rejections that we are attempting to clarify.

We are also actively working on three new Inter Partes Reviews, and three new Covered Business Method procedures petitioned for by Google, all related to the same three patents from the NV Google litigation (one IPR and one CBM request per patent). Both of these mechanisms are relatively new, having been implemented by the recent America Invents Act, and we are preparing for their expedited timelines and procedures. At this point, these petitions by Google have not been granted, and the associated reviews have not been initiated.

IV. Enforcement

Below is a brief summary of each of our pending enforcement actions:

Apple – District Court of Nevada / Northern District of California

On August 30, 2013, Judge Jones granted Apple's Motion to Transfer the case to the Northern District of California. On September 9, 2013, Unwired Planet filed a motion for reconsideration of the transfer order. As of October 4, 2013, the parties completed briefing on the motion for reconsideration; we are awaiting Judge Jones' ruling. On September 11, 2013, the Northern District of California assigned the case to Magistrate Judge Kandis Westmore in Oakland, CA. On October 15, 2013, Apple exercised its right to object to the assignment of a magistrate judge. Accordingly, on October 16, 2013, the Northern District of California reassigned the case to Judge Yvonne Rogers in Oakland, CA. We are currently awaiting a Scheduling Order from Judge Rogers. Prior to this transfer, considerable activity took place, including the exchange of infringement and invalidity contentions between the parties and considerable discovery activity. We expect to pick up where we left off once such an order is received.

Google – District Court of Nevada

Google’s motion to transfer to Northern District of California was denied in August. Last week, Google sought reconsideration of this decision and our briefing on this matter is due shortly. Significant briefing and discovery activity related to the merits of the case is ongoing. Our trial and Markman hearing have not yet been scheduled but our best estimate at the moment is Summer 2014 for the Markman and Winter 2014 for the trial.

Apple/RIM – District Court of Delaware

This case corresponds to the ITC case from last fall. The case is now moving forward under Judge Andrews in Delaware. Single claim term Markman hearing is now set for November 2013. The Markman result will most likely determine if we move forward to trial or move to appellate level regarding claim construction. Briefing from both parties was completed as of September 17, 2013.

Square – District Court of Nevada

This case was recently filed against Square, Inc. related to mobile payment patents included in our Mobile Cloud & Services segment. You can read our press release here. Judge Jones has been initially assigned to this matter.