TransData Doubles Smart Meter Suits as Patent Enforcement Heads East

September 1st, 2011 by Eric Lane Leave a reply »

 

In a previous post, I wrote about Texas smart meter company TransData‘s patent infringement suit against CoServ, a Texas utility.

TransData recently extended its patent enforcement activity from Texas in an easterly direction through the southeastern United States, filing complaints against utilities in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.

The targets are the Alabama Power Company (TransData-AlabamaPower_Complaint), the Georgia Power Company (TransData-GeorgiaPower_Complaint), and the Mississippi Power Company (TransData-MissPower_Complaint).

Each complaint asserts U.S. Patents Nos. 6,181,294 (’294 Patent), 6,462,713 (’713 Patent) and 6,903,699 (’699 Patent), which relate to antenna and wireless communication devices for use with electric meters.

The ’294, ’713 and ’699 Patents are related patents which trace back to an original 1998 filing date.  They describe early solutions for wireless transmission of electrical consumption data. 

In particular, the patents are directed to electric meters (100) and an antenna (170, 270) for use with the electric meters.  The antenna includes antenna elements (172, 174, 272, 274) located within a dielectric housing (120, 220) and a balance circuit (176, 276).

The balance circuit (176, 276) mechanically supports the antenna elements (172, 174, 272, 274) so the antenna elements can cooperate and act as a dipole. 

According to the patents’ specification:

The present invention . . . introduces the broad concept of outfitting an electric meter with an internal, wireless communications antenna, allowing the electric meter circuitry within the meter to communicate via a data network wirelessly couplable thereto.

According to the complaints, the devices that infringe or may infringe the asserted patents are Sensus iCon electric meters, Elster Alpha A3 and REX electric meters, and meters with SmartSynch wireless modules.

With these three new complaints, there are now at least six pending TransData infringement suits involving the same patents.  In addition to the CoServ case, the new complaints list two other cases in the Eastern District of Texas against CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric and Tri-County Electric Cooperative.

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