Archive for the ‘Green Patents’ category

Know No Truth: Federal Circuit Reversal of Hearsay Ruling Saves Biofuel Patent

December 7th, 2016

reg-logo-no-tm41e6f4d64b166625b27fff0000bf73c1

REG Synthetic Fuels, LLC (REG) owns U.S. Patent No. 8,231,804, entitled “Even carbon number paraffin composition and method of manufacturing same” (‘804 Patent).

The ‘804 Patent is directed to paraffin compositions containing primarily even carbon number paraffins and methods of making them.  Made from bio-renewable feedstocks, these saturated hydrocarbon chains are useful as phase change materials and can be used for home insulation.

Neste Oil Oyj (Neste), a Finnish oil refining company with a focus on advanced, low-emission transportation fuels, petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for inter partes review of the ‘804 Patent.

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB or Board) found claims 1, 3, 4 and 8 invalid as anticipated by a first prior art reference (Craig) and also found claims 1-3, 5 and 8 invalid as anticipated by a second prior art reference (Dindi).  REG appealed.

The statutory classification of the Dindi reference is crucial here:  it is a published patent application that qualified as prior art because it was filed before the ‘804 Patent application’s filing date.  This means that REG could remove Dindi as prior art if REG could marshal the requisite documentary evidence to show that the inventor of ‘804 Patent conceived of the invention before the Dindi filing date and was diligent in reducing the invention to practice.

Turns out REG did have such evidence, but the Board excluded critical portions of it as inadmissible hearsay.

On appeal, REG argued that the Board was incorrect to exclude the evidence, in particular Exhibit 2071 which consisted of emails between the inventor and third parties, in one of which the inventor stated:

[He has] had more difficulty than [he] expected trying to recover a 90+% purity nC18 product using [his] lab distillation glassware (80% purity C18 is the best [they] got).

This is significant because the claimed invention of the ‘804 Patent includes an 80 wt% purity C18 product.

The Board considered Exhibit 2061 to be hearsay because it did not verify the actual creation of the 80 wt% C18 product.

In a recent decision, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed this evidentiary ruling of the Board because Exhibit 2061 was not introduced into evidence for the truth of the statement therein.  Rather, the email itself provides evidence that the inventor conceived of the invention, irrespective of whether he actually created the product:

We find that the Board erred to the extent that it excluded the content of  Exhibit 2061 based on hearsay because REG offered Exhibit 2061 for the non-hearsay purpose to show that [the inventor] thought he had achieved 80 wt% purity C18 product. The act of writing and sending the email is, by itself, probative evidence on whether [the inventor] recognized – at the time that he had written the email – that the sum of the weight percentages of even-carbon-number paraffins in his compositions was at least 80 wt% and communicated this to a third party.

The court held, together with two other exhibits, Exhibit 2061 shows that the inventor of the ‘804 Patent “could create a composition with the claimed property of at least 80 wt% even-carbon-number paraffins” and was able to do so before the Dindi reference’s filing date:

[The email in Exhibit 2061] expressly states that he could achieve at least 80% purity C18 product, which was new in April 2008 because this product did not exist in the prior art, given the record before us.

So the Federal Circuit reversed the Board on conception of the invention and the admissibility of the Exhibit 2061 and sent the case back to the Board to determine whether the inventor was diligent in reducing the invention to practice, and REG and its ‘804 Patent survive to fight another day.

Exploring the Carbon Royalty Model

November 27th, 2016

In a previous post, John D. Vandenberg, a patent litigator in Portland, Oregon, laid out his vision of a carbon royalty:  using patents directly for the public good, by imposing a royalty to reduce carbon emissions.

A detailed discussion of the model can be found here in his Carbon Royalty Slide Deck and is illustrated below.

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If you’re interested in exploring this idea please e-mail Mr. Vandenberg at patentsforthepublicgood@gmail.com.

 

Cleantech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

November 16th, 2016

A number of new green patent complaints were filed in September and October in the fields of battery chargers, green cleaning products, LEDs, smart grid, solar mounting systems, and water conservation.

 

Battery Chargers

VoltStar Technologies, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility, LLC

VoltStar sued AT&T October 19, 2016 alleging infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,910,833 (‘833 Patent) and 7,910,834 (‘834 Patent) relating to an energy saving power adapter/charger and accompanying cables.

The ‘833 Patent is entitled “Energy-saving power adapter/charger” and the ‘834 Patent is entitled “Energy saving cable assemblies.”   According to the complaint, the patents pertain to a battery charger and accompanying cables “that automatically shuts off when a device is fully charged or not plugged in, eliminating ‘vampire load.’ This feature reduces power consumption and extends battery life.”

The accused product is the AT&T ZERO Charger and accompanying cables..

 

Green Cleaning Products

Greenology Products, Inc. v. HealthPro Brands Inc.

A North Carolina company called Greenology Products sued HealthPro Brands in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Filed September 13, 2016, the complaint alleges that HealthPro’s FIT Organic cleaning products infringe U.S. Patent No. 9,217,127, entitled “Organic cleaning composition” (‘127 Patent).

The ‘127 Patent is directed to an organic cleaning mixture comprising from about five percent (5%) to about ninety five percent (95%) by weight soapberry extract, from about 0.1% to about 95% percent (95%) by weight saponified oil, and from about 0.5% to about thirty percent (30%) by weight of one or more of sodium carbonate, sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, an alkali, and combinations thereof.

 

LEDs

Seoul Semiconductor Co. et al. v. K-mart Corporation

In a lawsuit filed September 9, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Seoul sued K-mart for infringement of eight LED patents:

U.S. Patent No. 6,942,731, entitled “Method for improving the efficiency of epitaxially produced quantum dot semiconductor components”

U.S. Patent No 6,942,731, entitled “Method for improving the efficiency of epitaxially produced quantum dot semiconductor components”

U.S. Patent No. 7,982,207, entitled “Light emitting diode”

U.S. Patent No. 7,626,209, entitled “Light emitting diode having active region of multi quantum well structure”

U.S. Patent No. 7,906,789, entitled “Warm white light emitting apparatus and back light module comprising the same”

U.S. Patent No. 7,951,626, entitled “Light emitting device and method of manufacturing the same”

U.S. Patent No. 8,664,638, entitled “Light-emitting diode having an interlayer with high voltage density and method for manufacturing the same”

U.S. Patent No. 8,860,331, entitled “Light emitting device for AC power operation”

U.S. Patent No. 9,240,529, entitled “Textured phosphor conversion layer light emitting diode”

The accused product is Spotlight’s Kodak LED Lighting Bulb 41063,

 

ilumisys, Inc. v. Woodforest Lighting Inc.

This lawsuit involves eleven patents relating to tubular LED replacements for fluorescent lighting tubes.

The complaint was filed September 15, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas and accuses Forest’s MT8-120 and Univ8 TLED products of infringing the following patents:

U.S. Patent No. 8,093,823, entitled “Light sources incorporating light emitting diodes”

U.S. Patent No. 8,382,327, entitled “Light tube and power supply circuit”

U.S. Patent No. 7,976,196, entitled “Method of forming LED-based light and resulting LED-based light”

U.S. Patent No. 9,072,171,  entitled “Circuit board mount for LED light”

U.S. Patent No. 7,815,338,  entitled “LED lighting unit including elongated heat sink and elongated lens”

U.S. Patent No. 9,006,993,  entitled “Light tube and power supply circuit”

U.S. Patent No. 9,222,626,  entitled “Light tube and power supply circuit”

U.S. Patent No. 8,866,396,  entitled “Light tube and power supply circuit”

U.S. Patent No. 7,510,299,  entitled “LED lighting device for replacing fluorescent tubes”

U.S. Patent No. 8,282,247,  entitled “Method of forming LED-based light and resulting LED-based light”

U.S. Patent No. 8,573,813,  entitled “LED-based light with supported heat sink”

 

Orion Energy Systems, Inc. v. Energy Bank, Inc.

Orion Energy Systems, Inc. v. Green Creative LLC

In a complaint filed September 18, 2016 in federal court in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Orion Energy Systems (Orion) asserted two related lighting patents against Energy Bank.

The patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 8,337,043 and 8,858,018, each entitled “Modular light fixture with power pack” and directed to light fixtures including first and second raceways, a support structure extending between and coupled to the raceways, a plurality of LEDs coupled to the structure and spaced apart, and a power pack  electrically coupled to the LEDs.

The accused products are Energy Bank’s LightSource light.

Orion brought another lawsuit, this one against Green Creative, alleging that the defendant’s 2X2′ and 2X4′ LED Troffer Retrofit Kits infringe U.S. Patent No. 9,206,948, entitled “Troffer light fixture retrofit systems and methods.”

The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on September 30, 2016.

 

Jakuta Diodes, LLC v. Cree, Inc.

Jakuta Diodes, LLC v. American Honda Motor Co.

Jakuta Diodes, LLC v. Acuity Brands, Inc.

Jakuta Diodes, LLC v. Ford Motor Company

Jakuta Diodes, LLC v. General Motors Company

Jakuta Diodes, LLC v. Ledengin, inc.

Jakuta Diodes, LLC v. Soraa, Inc.

Jakuta Diodes, LLC v. Teledyne Reynolds, Inc.

Jakuta Diodes filed eight lawsuits on September 21, 2016 against a bunch of defendants including LED makers Acuity Brands, Cree, Ledengin, Soraa, and Teledyne Reynolds and automakers Honda, Ford and GM.

The complaints were all filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas and all assert the same patent – U.S. Patent No. 6,079,854 (‘854 Patent).

The ‘854 Patent is entitled “Device and method for diffusing light” and directed to a lighting device to diffuse a beam of light such as a main light beam in a headlamp, thereby substantially reducing the glare experienced by oncoming drivers and permitting high beams of the headlamp to be used in the presence of the oncoming drivers.

The light has a region segregated into a plurality of channels into which light from a concave lens is radiated to provide a diffused pattern of dispersed light to exit the front end of the lighting housing.
The Cree and Honda complaints (jakuta-diodes-llc-v-cree-inc; jakuta-diodes-llc-v-american-honda-motor-co-inc) are illustrative.  The accused Cree products are the DiamondFacet Lenses and WaveMax Technology, and the accused Honda products are the Jewel Eye LED Headlights sold in the Acura RLX model automobiles.

 

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. DAMAR Worldwide 4 LLC

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. EiKo Global, LLC

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. Halco Lighting Technologies, LLC

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. Health in Motion LLC et al.

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. Hyperikon, Inc.

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. Innoled Lighting Inc.

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. LEDi2, Inc. et al.

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. RemPhos Technologies LLC

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. Tadd, LLC

Blackbird Tech, LLC v. LLC Espen Technology Inc.

Not to be outdone, Blackbird fired off ten complaints in Delaware federal court October 19, 2016.

Each complaint asserted U.S. Patent No. 7,086,747, entitled “Low-voltage apparatus for satisfying after-hours light requirements, emergency light requirements, and low light requirements” (‘747 Patent).

The ‘747 Patent is directed to an energy efficient lighting apparatus wherein the circuit board is positioned adjacent the ballast cover so that the plurality of light-emitting diodes protrude through the plurality of ballast cover holes in the ballast cover, the lighting apparatus is coupled to a wall switch, and the illumination of the light-emitting diodes is controllable based upon the position of the wall switch.

The Innoled Lighting complaint is representative and says the defendant is infringing the ‘747 Patent by selling linear LED lighting products.

 

Lexington Luminance LLC v. LG Electronics et al.

In a complaint filed October 27, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Lexington Luminance accused LG of infringing U.S. Patent No. 6,936,851 (‘851 Patent).

The ‘851 Patent is entitled “Semiconductor light-emitting device and method for manufacturing the same” and is directed to LEDs having textured districts on the substrate such that inclined layers guide extended defects to designated gettering centers in the trench region where the defects combine with each other.  This structure reduces the defect density of the LEDs.

The accused products include various televisions, computer displays, mobile phones, and other electronic devices using LED illuminated LCD displays.

 

CAO Lighting, Inc. v. Light Efficient Design et al.

CAO Lighting brought an infringement action (cao-lighting-inc-v-light-efficient-design-et-al) against Light Efficient Design in federal court in Idaho on October 28, 2016.

CAO alleges infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,465,961 (‘961 Patent), entitled “Semiconductor light source using a heat sink with a plurality of panels” and directed to an LED light source with a heat sink that has multiple panels.  Each panel may host one or more LED chips, which can be arranged to transmit light in multiple directions.  More details on this patent can found in my previous post here.

The accused products include the 8000 Series lighting products such as the LED-8039E57 bulb and LED-8024E retrofit product.

Smart Grid

Grid Innovations, LLC v. The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas

GRID Innovations sued the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) for alleged infringement of two patents relating to trading and routing electric power.

The complaint was filed September 2, 2016 in federal court in Tyler, Texas and accuses ERCOT’s electric power trade and distribution systems, specifically the day-ahead and real-time energy markets of infringing the patents.

The asserted patents are U.S. Patent No. 7,945,502 (‘502 Patent) and 9,256,905 (‘905 Patent).

The ‘502 Patent is entitled “Online trading and dynamic routing of electric power among electric service providers” and directed to a method and system for trading electric power on a spot market and dynamically matching bids and asks and routing the electric power in accordance with the matches to effect the settled trades.

The ‘905 Patent is entitled “Intelligent routing of electric power” and directed to a method and system for dynamically routing electric power in real time in accordance with parameters submitted by buyers and sellers of electric power using a feedback control scheme.

 

Clean Energy Management Solutions, LLC v. Cascade Energy, Inc.

Clean Energy Management Solutions, LLC v. Schneider Electric USA, Inc.

Clean Energy Management Solutions, LLC v. Siemens Corporation

Clean Energy Management Solutions, LLC v. SmartLabs, Inc.

Clean Energy Management Solutions, LLC v. Wink Inc. et al.

Clean Energy Management Solutions (CEMS) filed three complaints on September 6, 2016 in federal court in Marshall, Texas asserting U.S. Patent No. 6,577,962 against Cascade Energy, Schneider Electric, and Siemens (Cascade Energy complaint; Schneider Electric complaintSiemens complaintSmartLabs complaintWink complaint).

Entitled “System and method for forecasting energy usage load,” the ‘962 Patent is directed to systems and methods for forecasting energy usage load for a facility including a parameter identification module for determining periodic energy load usage of the facility and a load prediction module for generating energy usage load forecast profiles for the facility.  A set of matrices may include a matrix for storing coefficients for determining periodic changes in energy load usage, and a model parameter matrix for storing load parameter information.

The accused products are Cascade Energy’s SENSEI system, Schneider’s PowerLogic ION EEM system, and Siemens’ SIMATIC B.Data system.

On October 28th and 31st, respectively, CEMS also sued SmartLabs and Wink in the same court, alleging that SmartLabs’ Insteon home automation system and Wink’s home security and automation system infringe U.S. Patent No. 8,035,479 (‘479 Patent).

The ‘479 Patent is entitled “Mesh network door lock” and relates to systems and methods for sending a code from a mesh network key and wirelessly communicating the code with one or more mesh network appliances over a mesh network such as ZigBee, receiving the code over the mesh network by a mesh network lock controller, and providing access to the secured area upon authenticating the code.

 

JSDQ Mesh Technologies LLC v. S & C Electric Company

On October 20, 2016, JSDQ filed suit against S & C Electric Company in U.S. District Court for the Norther District of Illinois, alleging infringement of four patents relating to wireless routing systems used in smart grid networks.

The patents-in-suit are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,286,828 and 7,916,648, both entitled “Method of Call Routing and Connection,” RE43,675 entitled “Wireless Radio Routing System,” and RE44,607entitled, “Wireless Mesh Routing Method.”

JSDQ alleges that S& C Electric infringes the patents-in-suit because of its deployment of the SpeedNet Radio Networks.

 

Solar Mounting Systems

Rillito River Solar, LLC v. Wencon Development, Inc.

Rillito River Solar sued Wencon September 23, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

The complaint alleges that Wencon’s Quick Mount roof mounting system infringes three patents relating to solar mounting systems.

The asserted patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 6,526,701, entitled “Roof mount,” 9,010,038, entitled “Tile roof mount” and 9,422,723, entitled “Roofing grommet forming a seal between a roof-mounted structure and a roof.”

 

Water Conservation

Water Conservation Technology Int’l v. Roseburg Forest Products Co. et al.

This lawsuit involves five related patents pertaining to technologies for treating water in an environmentally friendly matter.

The patents are:

U.S. Patent No. 6,929,749, entitled “Cooling water scale and corrosion inhibition”

U.S. Patent No. 6,949,193, entitled “Cooling water scale and corrosion inhibition”

U.S. Patent No. 6,998,092, entitled “Cooling water scale and corrosion inhibition”

U.S. Patent No. 7,122,148, entitled “Cooling water scale and corrosion inhibition”

U.S. Patent No. 7,517,493, entitled “Cooling water corrosion inhibition method”

The complaint was filed by Water Conservation Technologies International (WCTI) September 9, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

WCTI alleges that the defendant continues to use the patented technologies for treating a cooling tower at defendant’s biomass cogeneration plant after termination of a contract between the parties.

More Green Patent PR: Solidia Technologies Granted Three New Patents

November 1st, 2016

solidia-logo

Solidia Technologies (Solidia) is a New Jersey company that has developed a carbon sequestration technology for use in the concrete and cement markets.  Solidia’s process sequesters CO2 by injecting it into concrete during the manufacturing process.

Consistent with the trend of clean tech companies generating PR about their patent news (see, e.g., previous posts here, here, and here), Solidia recently announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the company three new patents.

The press release was picked up by a few news organizations, including The Olympian and The State.  But I didn’t have to search for it; it was conveniently delivered to my email inbox.

The new patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 9,221,027 (‘027 Patent), 9,393,715 (‘715 Patent), and 9,266,147 (‘147 Patent).

The ‘027 Patent is entitled “Curing systems for materials that consume carbon dioxide and method of use thereof” and directed to curing systems useful for curing materials that consume carbon dioxide as a reagent.  A schematic diagram of the patented system is shown here:

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According to the ‘027 Patent, this system “creates a controlled atmosphere whereby temperature, pressure, COconcentration, relative humidity and gas velocity are monitored and controlled to create final concrete-based products that will predominately cure in the presence of CO2 and will not fully cure in the absence of CO2.”

Entitled “Composite railroad ties and methods of production and uses thereof,” the ‘715 Patent is directed to railroad ties made from new composite materials including a silica-rich first or inner layer and a calcium carbonate-rich second or outer layer.

The ties have particular density, abrasion resistance, and compressive and flextural strength characteristics that enable them to perform as well as or even outperform existing concrete railroad ties.  Here are a couple of drawing from the ‘715 Patent:

715-patent-figure

The ‘147 Patent is entitled “Precursors and transport methods for hydrothermal liquid phase sintering (HLPS)” and directed to methods of producing a ceramic body from a porous matrix including providing a porous matrix having interstitial spaces, providing an infiltrating medium comprising a solvent and at least one reactive species, and infiltrating at least a portion of the interstitial space of the porous matrix with the infiltrating medium.

According to the ‘147 Patent, the methods produce a ceramic or ceramic composite product having a uniform microstructure with respect to phase and composition.

The methods also allow HLPS reactions to be conducted in a relatively short time frame, which is important where large thick monolithic bodies are required for various applications, such as for roads or bridges. The patented techniques also balance the rate of reaction and mass transport for the HLPS method.

These three patents are just the tip of the iceberg for Solidia.  The press release says the company has over 200 patent applications worldwide in its “patent estate,” with 31 granted patents and 15 more set to issue in the next few months.  So there’s a lot of green patent PR still to come.

 

A Tree Grows in Colombia: New Patent Provides Local Color

October 7th, 2016

genipa_americana_l-_fruits_codiferous

In what may be a first, a new U.S. patent includes a statement about the geographic location of the colorant composition.

The patent – U.S. Patent No. 9,376,569 – issued June 28, 2016 and is entitled “Colorant compounds derived from genipin or genipin containing materials” (‘569 Patent).

The ‘569 Patent relates to a natural blue dye for use in foods and personal care products.  More particularly, the ‘569 Patent is directed to colorant compositions made from the juice of the Genipa americana fruit (pictured above) and methods of preparing the compositions.

The methods include mixing the juice with an amino acid, removing the sugar from the mixture, and isolating the colorant composition.  The colorant compositions comprise purified polymer or dimer compounds obtained from multiple fractioning by chromatography.

The patent is owned by a Colombian company called Ecoflora, which is a member of the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT).  The UEBT is a non-profit that promotes sourcing of ingredients from biodiverse areas and requires that is members comply with its principles on patents and biodiversity.

One of those principles is that patent applications disclose the country of origin of the biological resources and establish a link between patents and agreements on fair trade and benefit sharing.

In accordance with these requirements, the ‘569 Patent contains the following paragraph at the top of the Background of the Invention section:

Statement of Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS)

This invention is based on the extraction and use of a blue dye with edible properties from the fruit of the Genipa americana tree. This tree grows in a variety of rainforests of Colombia. In compliance with the principles of ABS of the Convention of Biological Diversity and its implementing Nagoya Protocol, access to the genetic resources was obtained through agreements with ethnic communities and the authorities charged by Colombian legislation with administering their collective territories. The assignee has also entered into agreements with several community entrepreneurial initiatives that coordinate local production and supply dynamics with commercial partners. Through a shareholding agreement, these community-owned suppliers share in the financial benefits of commercialization of the genetic resources. Additional benefit sharing is provided through Fundacion Espave, a nonprofit organization that is a member of the Union for Ethical BioTrade and that trains local producers on sustainable sourcing in the Pacific rainforest.

This is the first time I’ve seen something quite like this in a U.S. patent.  Presumably, the statement is important to UEBT and its members.

For the rest of us the statement is purely informational and, though it goes beyond the disclosure requirements under U.S. patent law, would not likely have any impact on the validity or enforceability of the patent in the United States.

It will be interesting to see whether more applicants insert the same statement in their patent applications.

More interestingly, will inventions other than genetics relating to biological diversity require certain disclosures?  I wonder, for example, whether there is anything in any climate change agreements that might compel applicants to provide additional information about the source of materials, the use of the invention, or license agreements.

Read more about the patent, the applicant, and the UEBT in an IP Watch article here.

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

September 23rd, 2016

A number of new green patent infringement complaints were filed in July and August in the areas of advanced batteries, biofuels, LEDs, and electric motors.

 

Advanced Batteries

Dynavair LLC v. AMS USA, Inc.; Dynavair v. Atmel; Dyanavair v. Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions; Dynavair v. Eaton; Dynavair v. Freescale Semiconductor; Dynavair v. Intersil; Dynavair v. Linear Technology; Dynavair v. Microchip Technology; Dynavair v. OKW Electronics; Dynavair v. Samsung SDI America; Dynavair v. SII Semiconductor; Dynavair v. Texas Instruments

Dynavair has initiated at least twelve lawsuits accusing, inter alia, AMS USA, Atmel, Eaton, Freescale Semiconductor, Samsung, and Texas Instruments of infringing U.S. Patent No. 6,271,645 (‘645 Patent).

A representative complaint, filed July 5, 2016 in federal court in Marshall, Texas, against AMS lists AMS’s AS8506C Battery Cell Monitor and Balancer IC as the accused instrumentality.  According to the complaint, the product balances energy levels between two battery groups in a battery pack.

The ‘645 Patent is entitled “Method for balancing battery pack energy levels” and directed to a method and circuit for balancing energy levels among first and second battery groups within a battery pack by controlling a first energy level responsive to a first state of charge value indicative of a first energy level of the first battery group and a second energy level responsive to a second state of charge value indicative of the energy level of the second battery group so as to balance the first and second energy levels.

Biofuels

DSM IP Assets et al. v. Lallemand Specialties, Inc. et al.

Filed July 13, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, DSM’s complaint accuses Lallemand and Mascoma LLC of infringing a patent relating to yeast products used in ethanol production.

U.S. Patent No. 8,795,998 is entitled “Fermentative glycerol-free ethanol production” and directed to transgenic yeast cells that reduce or eliminate the production of glycerol during fermentation.

More particularly, the patent relates to a recombinant yeast cell lacking enzymatic activity needed for the NADH-dependent glycerol synthesis or the cell having reduced enzymatic activity with respect to the NADH-dependent glycerol synthesis.

The accused products are yeast products, including Lallemand’s TransFerm Yield+ yeast.

LEDs

Lighting Science Group Corporation v. Titch Industries, Inc. et al.

Lighting Science Group Corporation v. Shenzhen Jiawei Photovoltaic Lighting Co.

Lighting Science Group Corporation v. Satco Products, Inc.

Lighting Science Group Corporation v. Technical Consumer Products, Inc.

Lighting Science Group Corporation v. Wangs Alliance Corporation et al.

Lighting Science Group Corporation v. Amax Lighting

Lighting Science Group filed at least six more infringement suits in July, asserting various combinations of the following three patents: U.S. Patent No. 8,201,968 (‘968 Patent), U.S. Patent No. 8,967,844 (‘844 Patent), and U.S. Patent No. 8,672,518 (‘518 Patent).

Entitled “Low profile light,” the ’968 Patent is directed to a luminaire including a heat spreader and a heat sink disposed outboard of the heat spreader, an outer optic securely retained relative to the heat spreader and/or the heat sink, and an LED light source.

The ‘518 Patent and the’ 844 Patent are entitled “Low profile light and accessory kit for the same” and relate to LSG’s disc light LED devices.

With the exception of the Shenzhen complaint, filed July 11, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, all of the lawsuits were filed in Orlando, Florida.  The Titch complaint was filed July 7th; the Satco complaint and the Technical Consumer Products complaint were filed July 13th; the Wangs Alliance complaint and the Amax Lighting complaint were filed July 22nd.

 

Lexington Luminance LLC v. TCL Multimedia Holdings, Ltd. et al.

In a complaint filed July 13, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Lexington Luminance accused TCL Multimedia Holdings and TTE Technology of infringing U.S. Patent No. 6,936,851 (‘851 Patent).

The ‘851 Patent is entitled “Semiconductor light-emitting device and method for manufacturing the same” and is directed to LEDs having textured districts on the substrate such that inclined layers guide extended defects to designated gettering centers in the trench region where the defects combine with each other.  This structure reduces the defect density of the LEDs.

The accused products include television model 40FD2700 using backlighting LEDS which, according to the complaint, use an infringing patterned sapphire substrate.

 

Lemaire Illumination Technologies, LLC v. LG Electronics USA, Inc. et al.

Lemaire Illumination Technologies sued LG for alleged infringement of three patents relating to LED lighting technology.

The patents-in-suit are U.S. Patent Nos. 6,095,661 (‘661 Patent), 6,488,390 (‘390 Patent) and 9,119,266 (‘266 Patent).

The ‘661 Patent is entitled “Method and apparatus for an L.E.D. flashlight” and the ‘390 Patent is entitled “Color-adjusted camera light and method” and these related patents are directed to an LED flashlight including  a control circuit for maintaining a predetermined light output level of the LED units as a charge on a battery varies.

The ‘266 Patent is entitled “Pulsed L.E.D. illumination apparatus and method” and directed to an illumination source for a camera including one or more LEDs and a control circuit for driving the LEDs with electrical pulses at a frequency high enough that light produced has an appearance to a human user of being continuous rather than pulsed.

Filed in federal court in Marshall, Texas on July 14, 2016, the complaint lists the LG G3 and G4 smartphones as accused devices.

 

Nichia Corporation v. Mary Elle Fashions, Inc. et al.

Nichia Corporation v. Lowe’s Companies, Inc. et al.

Nichia Corporation v. TCL Multimedia Technology Holdings, Ltd. et al.

Nichia filed these three lawsuits in July and August asserting U.S. Patent No. 7,915,631 (‘631 Patent) against Mary Elle Fashions, Lowe’s, and TCL.

The complaint against Mary Elle Fashions was filed July 19, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and lists the Meridian 13w Equivalent Bright White G24 Non-Dimmable LED Bulb as the accused product.

The Lowe’s complaint, filed July 19, 2016 in federal court in Statesville, North Carolina, alleges that the Utilitech Pro 48-inch Strip Light and the Utilitech Pro 24-inch Strip Light infringe the ‘631 Patent.

The complaint against TCL was filed August 8, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware and names the TCL 48″ Class Television as the accused product.

Entitled “Light emitting device and display,” the ‘631 Patent is directed to an LED having a phosphor capable of absorbing a part of light emitted by a light emitting component and emitting light of a wavelength different from that of the absorbed light.

 

Nichia Corporation v. v. TCL Multimedia Technology Holdings, Ltd. et al.

Separately, Nichia also sued TCL in federal court in Marshall, Texas allegint that the TCL 55GS3700 55 inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV infringes U.S. Patent No. 8,530,250 (‘250 Patent).

Entitled “Light emitting device, resin package, resin-molded body, and methods for manufacturing light emitting device, resin package and resin-molded body,” the ‘250 Patent is directed to a method of manufacturing an LED such that the optical reflectivity at a wavelength of 350-800 nm after thermal curing is 70% or more.

The method includes the steps of sandwiching a leadframe with a notched section, transfer-molding a thermosetting resin containing a light-reflecting substance, forming a resin-molded body on the leadframe, and cutting the resin-molded body and the leadframe along the notched section.

The complaint was filed August 8, 2016.

 

Seoul Viosys Co., Ltd. v. P3 International Corporation

This lawsuit was filed August 8, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In the suit, Seoul accuses P3 of infringing five LED patents:

U.S. Patent No. 7,982,207, entitled “Light emitting diode”

U.S. Patent No. 7,951,626, entitled “Light emitting device and method of manufacturing the same”

U.S. Patent No. 9,203,006, entitled “Light emitting device”

U.S. Patent No. 8,692,282, entitled “Light emitting diode package and light emitting module comprising the same”

U.S. Patent No. 8,168,988, entitled “Light emitting element with a plurality of cells bonded, method of manufacturing the same, and light emitting device using the same”

The accused products listed in the complaint include P3’s P7880 LED Bug Trap and P7885 LED Bug Trapper II.

 

Philips Lighting North America Corp. et al. v. GVA Lighting, Inc.

Philips has asserted four of its LED patents against Canadian company GVA, alleging that GVA’s STR9 RGBW linear surface mount LED luminaires infringe the patents.

The patents-in-suit are:

U.S. Patent No. 6,692,136, entitled “LED/phosphor-LED hybrid lighting systems”

U.S. Patent No. 6,788,011, entitled “Multicolored LED lighting method and apparatus”

U.S. Patent No. 7,014,336, entitled “Systems and methods for generating and modulating illumination conditions”

U.S. Patent No. 7,255,457, entitled “Methods and apparatus for generating and modulating illumination conditions”

The complaint was filed August 11, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

 

Bitro Group v. Blueview Elec-Optic Tech

Bitro Group v. Global Lux

Bitro Group v. Jb Online LLC dba Ellumiglow.com

Bitro Group v. LEDwholesalers.com

Bitro Group v. The LED Light, Inc.

Bitro Group filed five lawsuits on August 16, 2016 against various defendants asserting infringement of U.S. Patent No. 9,113,558 (‘558 Patent).

The ‘558 Patent is entitled “LED mount bar capable of freely forming curved surfaces thereon” and directed to an LED tape light strip with a structure that allows it to be bent in the direction of its width so it can be used for lighting that must conform to unique shapes.

The complaints (Blueview Elec-Optic complaintGlobal Lux complaintJB Online complaintLEDwholesalers.com complaintThe LED Light complaint) were all filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

The accused products are Blue View Elec-Optic’s Bendable Zig Zag LED tape, Global Lux’s Zigzag Ribbon lights, JB Online’s Wavelux Bendable 3528 LED Strip Light, LEDwholesalers’ Ultra-Flex 6.56-Feet Single Color LED Strip, and the LED Light’s Bendable Flexible LED Strips.

 

Innovative Display Technologies LLC v. LG Display Co. et al.

U.S. Patent Nos. 7,322,730, entitled “Light emitting panel assemblies” (‘730 Patent) and 7,178,965, entitled “Light emitting panel assemblies having LEDs of multiple colors” (‘965 Patent).

The ‘730 and ‘965 Patents relate to optical assemblies including a light emitter having at least one layer of a transparent film, sheet or plate through which light emitted by the light emitter passes.  A pattern of deformities on or in at least one side of the film, sheet or plate control an output ray angle distribution of light emitted by the optical assemblies.

The complaint was filed August 24, 2016 in federal court in Marshall, Texas.

The accused products are various mobile phones, tablets, televisions, monitors, laptops, and liquid crystal display modules containing edge-lit and/or 2-D array backlights.

 

Epistar Corporation v. Adamax, Inc.

In this action, filed August 30, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Epistar has asserted six patents relating to LED filament technology.

U.S. Patent No. 6,346,771, entitled “High power LED lamp”

U.S. Patent No. 6,489,068, entitled “Process for observing overlay errors on lithographic masks”

U.S. Patent No. 7,560,738, entitled “Light-emitting diode array having an adhesive layer”

U.S. Patent No. 8,240,881, entitled “Light-emiting device package”

U.S. Patent No. 8,791,467, entitled “Light emitting diode and method of making the same”

U.S. Patent No. 9,065,022, entitled “Light emitting apparatus”

The complaint names Adamax’s NewHouse Lighting Dimmable Flame Tip 3.5 W LED Vintage Edison Filament Bulb, 2200K as infringing products.

Electric Motors

Cannarella v. Volvo Car USA LLC et al.

An individual inventor, R. Thomas Cannarella, sued Volvo and others alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,232,661 (‘661 Patent).

The ‘661 Patent is entitled “System and method for generating and storing clean energy” and directed to a system for generating electrical energy from pressurized fluid and peristaltic compression and expansion cycles.

Filed August 17, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the complaint alleges that the defendants have made a commercial entitled “Highway Robbery: Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine Hybrid” featuring an infringing peristaltic energy generation system.

Court Holds Grid Monitoring Patents Invalid; Collecting Info is Unpatentable Abstract Idea

August 30th, 2016

A prior post reported on the litigation between Electric Power Group (EPG) and Alstom Grid.

The lawsuit, filed in the Central District of California, alleged that Alstom’s “PhasorPoint” and “e-terravision” solutions infringed U.S. Patent Nos. 8,060,2597,233,843, and 8,401,710 (EPG Patents).

The EPG Patents relate to wide-area real-time performance monitoring systems for monitoring and assessing dynamic stability of an electric power grid.

More particularly, the patents describe and claim systems and methods for performing real-time performance monitoring of an electric power grid by collecting data from multiple data sources, analyzing the data, and displaying the results.

In an opinion issued earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held the EPG Patents invalid under Section 101 of the Patent Act for failing the test for patent eligibility.  The decision affirmed the lower court’s grant of summary judgment.

Section 101 defines the subject matter eligible for patenting and, according to the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, “contains an important implicit exception:  Laws of natural phenomena, and abstract ideas are not patentable” concepts.

Alice set out a two-stage Section 101 inquiry for determining patent eligibility.  Stage one asks whether a patent claim is directed to one of the three non-patent eligible concepts.

If so, at stage two, the court asks whether the particular elements of the claim add enough to “transform the nature of the claim into a patent-eligible application.”

According to the Federal Circuit, because the claims of the EPG Patents are directed to collecting and analyzing information and displaying certain results of the collection and analysis, they “fall into a familiar class of claims ‘directed to” a patent-ineligible concept.”

More particularly, information is an intangible, and collecting information is an abstract idea:

[W]e have treated collecting information, including when limited to particular content (which does not change its character as information), as within the realm of abstract ideas.

Furthermore, the court found the patents’ improvement of focusing on specific content to be collected and analyzed not sufficiently innovative:

The advance [the EPG Patents] purport to make is a process of gathering and analyzing information of a specified content, then displaying the results, and not any particular assertedly inventive technology for performing those functions.  They are therefore directed to an abstract idea.

Turning to stage two of the Alice framework, the Federal Circuit did not find anything added to the claims or any limitations that would remove them from the realm of abstract ideas and make them patent-eligible.  Limiting them to the power-grid monitoring space was not enough:

Most obviously, limiting the claims to the particular technological environment of power-grid monitoring is, without more, insufficient to transform them into patent-eligible applications of the abstract idea at their core.

Much of the content of the claims of the EPG Patents, the court observed, was “devoted to enumerating types of information and information sources available within the power-grid environment.”  Merely selecting that information does not “differentiate a process from ordinary mental processes.”

According to the court, the claims did not require any inventive set of components or methods, such as measurement devices or techniques, do not generate new data, and do not invoke any inventive programming.  They also do not require anything other than off-the-shelf, conventional computer network and display technology.

Thus, the court held that the EPG Patent claims “do not state an arguably inventive concept in the realm of application of the information-based abstract ideas” and are therefore invalid.

The Federal Circuit closed its opinion with some tough words from the district court about the EPG Patents that allude to a public policy rationale for invalidating the patents:

[R]ather than claiming “some specific way of enabling a computer to monitor data from multiple sources across an electric power grid,” some “particular implementation,” they “purport to monopolize every potential solution to the problem” – any way of effectively monitoring multiple sources on a power grid.

Some might say that alone is reason to invalidate the patents.

Master of its Domain: Infringement Verdict Could Mean Dominion Dominance in Advanced Metering

August 19th, 2016

Untitled

Once in a long while a green patent lawsuit comes along that has the potential to have a major impact on a clean technology sector.

A few that come to mind are GE’s litigation with Mitsubishi involving, among others, U.S. Patent No. 5,083,039, a seminal patent on variable speed wind technology, Paice’s epic battle with Toyota over the hybrid vehicle technology used in the Prius, and the biofuels patent litigation between BP-DuPont joint venture Butamax and the advanced biofuels company Gevo.

We may have witnessed another one this summer, with the announcement last month by Dominion Voltage, Inc. (Dominion) that a jury found Alstom Grid infringed a Dominion patent relating to voltage reduction in advanced metering infrastructure.

Dominion filed an infringement complaint against Alstom Grid in January 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The asserted patents were U.S. Patent Nos. 8,577,510 and 8,437,883 (‘883 Patent), related patents each entitled “Voltage conservation using advanced metering infrastructure and substation centralized voltage control.”

The patents, one a continuation of the other, are directed to voltage control and energy conservation systems where a plurality of sensors sense voltages of the supplied electric power at distribution locations and generate measurement data based on the sensed voltages.

A voltage controller generates an energy delivery parameter based on a comparison of the measurement data received from the sensors to a controller target voltage band, and a voltage adjusting device adjusts a voltage of the electric power supplied at the supply point based on the energy delivery parameter.

If that concept seems broad to you, it is, and the folks at Greentech Media thought so too.  In this piece reporting on the lawsuit, GTM said the asserted Dominion patents “appear to hold pretty broad claim over the very idea of using distributed sensors for grid voltage management.”

According to GTM, the patented technology is embodied in Dominion’s commercial products and is pervasive in the smart meter industry today:

That’s the technology behind DVI’s EDGE control platform, now in use by utilities across the country, and using smart meters and networks from a list of vendor partners including Silver Spring Networks, Elster and Landis+Gyr.

And now at least one of the major commercial users of the technology has been found to infringe of the patents.  According to the Dominion press release, the jury in the lawsuit returned a verdict of infringement, finding the ‘883 patent valid and infringed by Alstom Grid (now owned by GE).

The jury also found that Alstom “induced infringement through the installation of its distribution management system at a customer location.”

Dominion is likely to seek an injunction to stop Alstom Grid from installing and using the infringing products.  However, these cases more often result in a license negotiated by the parties including some sort of royalty payment.

In any event, Dominion is now in a very strong position in the smart meter-enabled grid voltage control space.  According to GTM, which covered the jury verdict here, the company is the U.S. leader in this market and now “has a jury verdict to protect the technology behind that market dominance.”

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Upate

July 29th, 2016

A number of new green patent infringement complaints were filed in May and June in the areas of green cleaning solvents, LEDs, lighting control technology, smart thermostats, smart meters, and water meters.

 

Green Cleaning Solvents

GreenEarth Cleaning, LLC v. Kings Park Green Cleaners, LLC

This action for patent infringement, trademark infringement, and breach of contract was filed June 21, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Although the complaint lists nine patents, there is only one count of patent infringement asserting U.S. Patent No. 5,942,007 (‘007 Patent).

The ‘007 Patent is entitled “Dry cleaning method and solvent” and directed to dry cleaning methods comprising the steps of immersing clothes in a dry cleaning fluid including a cyclic siloxane composition, agitating the clothes in the composition, and then removing the cyclic siloxane composition by centrifugal action and air circulation.

According to the Abstract of the ‘007 Patent, the “cyclic-siloxane-based solvent allows the system to result in an environmentally friendly process which is, also, more effective in cleaning fabrics and the like than any known prior system.”

GreenEarth alleges that Kings Park, which had a license from GreenEarth, continues to use liquid silicone as a dry cleaning solvent though it is no longer a licensee.

 

LEDs

Lighting Science Group Corporation v. Hubbell Inc. et al.

Lighting Science Group Corporation v. American De Rosa Lamparts, LLC

Lighting Science filed both of these lawsuits in federal court in Orlando, Florida on June 21, 2016.

Both complaints assert U.S. Patent No. 8,201,968 (‘968 Patent), U.S. Patent No. 8,967,844 (‘844 Patent), and U.S. Patent No. 8,672,518 (‘518 Patent).

Entitled “Low profile light,” the ’968 Patent is directed to a luminaire including a heat spreader and a heat sink disposed outboard of the heat spreader, an outer optic securely retained relative to the heat spreader and/or the heat sink, and an LED light source.

The ‘518 Patent and the’ 844 Patent are entitled “Low profile light and accessory kit for the same” and relate to LSG’s disc light LED devices.

Hubbell’s “Surface Mount” family of products are the subject of the Hubbell complaint, and the American De Rosa complaint lists the F9908-30, F9901-30-1, F9904-30-1, and F9906-30-1 products.

 

Nichia Corporation v. Mary Elle Fashions, Inc.

Nichia Corporation v. Lowe’s Companies, Inc.

Nichia Corporation v. Feit Electric Company, Inc.

These three actions, filed June 13, 2016, accuse each defendant of infringing U.S. Patent No. 8,530,250 (‘250 Patent).

Entitled “Light emitting device, resin package, resin-molded body, and methods for manufacturing light emitting device, resin package and resin-molded body,” the ‘250 Patent is directed to a method of manufacturing an LED such that the optical reflectivity at a wavelength of 350-800 nm after thermal curing is 70% or more.

The method includes the steps of sandwiching a leadframe with a notched section, transfer-molding a thermosetting resin containing a light-reflecting substance, forming a resin-molded body on the leadframe, and cutting the resin-molded body and the leadframe along the notched section.

The Mary Elle Fashions complaint lists as accused products the Meridian CFL Plus and the LED Night Light, the Lowe’s complaint lists the Utilitech Pro 24-in Strip Light and LED Bulb, and the Feit Electric complaint lists the BPOM60/830/LED Bulb and the LG2560/CL/LEDG2 Bulb.

 

DeNovo Lighting, LLC v. Norman Lamps, Inc.

DeNovo sued Norman Lamps for alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,729,809, entitled “Voltage regulating devices in LED lamps with multiple power sources” (‘809 Patent).

The ‘809 Patent is directed to an LED lamp having three voltage reducing devices, a voltage regulating circuit for providing linear current, the circuit not dependent on a voltage or electromagnetic induction power;,and at least two LEDs connected in series across the voltage regulating circuit.

The complaint, filed June 7, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleges that Norman’s Hybrid T8 lamps infringe the ‘809 Patent.

 

Philips Lighting North America Corporation et al. v. ikan Int’l, LLC

Philips has asserted more of its LED patents, this time against iKan in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

In a complaint filed May 31, 2016, Philips accused iKan of infringing the following patents:

U.S. Patent No. 6,692,136, entitled “LED/phosphor-LED hybrid lighting systems”

U.S. Patent No. 6,788,011, entitled “Multicolored LED lighting method and apparatus”

U.S. Patent No. 7,014,336, entitled “Systems and methods for generating and modulating illumination conditions”

U.S. Patent No. 7,180,252, entitled “Geometric panel lighting apparatus and methods”

U.S. Patent No. 7,255,457, entitled “Methods and apparatus for generating and modulating illumination conditions”

The accused products include various bi-color flood lights including the iLED 144, iLED 312-v2, IB-508-v2, StudioPRO 600, and Multi-K XL products.

 

Golight, Inc. v. Oracle Lighting, L.L.C.

Filed May 19, 2016 in the U.S.District Court for the District of Colorado, Golight’s lawsuit asserts U.S. Patent No. 9,255,687, entitled “LED system and housing for use with halogen light fixtures” (‘687 Patent).

The complaint alleges that Oracle’s 20W 4D Optic LED Square Spot and and 50 W LED portable search lights infringe the ‘687 Patent.

The ‘687 Patent is directed to an optical projection lens for mounting in front of LEDs.  The lens has a plurality of protrusions of varying thickness wherein the outermost edges of each protrusion has the thickest measurement, the center of each protrusion has the thinnest measurement, and the protrusions merge individual beams of light into a single beam of light.

 

LEDsOn et al. v. Qtran, Inc.

In an action for design patent infringement, LEDsON sued QTran,  on May 3, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

The patents-in-suit are:

U.S. Design Patent No. D649,683, entitled “Extrusion for LED-based lighting apparatus”

U.S. Design Patent No. D649,684, entitled “Extrusion for LED-based lighting apparatus”

U.S. Design Patent No. D649,681, entitled “Extrusion for LED-based lighting apparatus”

The accused products are QTran’s IQA-RECD, IQA-45DN, and IQA-Flat LED-based lighting apparatus.

Smart Thermostats

FTC Sensors, LLC v. ecobee Inc.

In this action, filed in federal court in Marshall, Texas on June 1, 2016, FTC Sensors asserts three related sensor and transmission control patents.

According to the complaint, ecobee’s smart thermostat devices, including the Ecobee3 Thermostat, contain systems that infringe the three patents.

Each entitled “Sensor and transmission control circuit in adaptive interface package,” the patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,397,369, 7,696,870, and 8,421,621 (“Sensor Patents”).

The Sensor Patents are directed to a sensor system with a plurality of sensor modules. In a first mode, a linear voltage regulator provides a relatively small amount of power which allows a sensor module to output a signal responsive to detecting an environmental condition.

The interface module can switch the linear voltage regulator to a second mode in which the linear voltage regulator ramps up the amount of power provided to a detecting sensor module. The sensor module can then provide a level indicative of a concentration or intensity of the environmental condition. If the level surpasses a predetermined threshold, the sensor pack can output an alert signal to security server.

Smart Meters

TransData, Inc. v. CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric, LLC et al.

TransData has sued another utility, once again in federal court in Tyler, Texas on May 11, 2016.

The now-familiar (see previous posts, e.g., here and here) asserted patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 6,181,294 (‘294 Patent)and 6,462,713 (‘713 Patent), each entitled “Antenna for Electric Meter and Manufacture Thereof.”  The third patent, U.S. Patent No. 6,903,699, entitled “Wireless Communication Device for Electric Meter and Method of Manufacture Thereof,” is a continuation-in-part of ‘713 and continuation of ‘294.

These patents describe an electric meter capable of bi-directional communication over a wireless network.  The meter is equipped with wireless communication circuitry and an antenna allowing the meter to wirelessly send usage data to a remote location and wirelessly, receive operational instructions from the remote location.

The complaint lists as accused products the Itron OpenWay Centron electric meter, the Landis+Gyr Focus AX electric meter, the General Electric I-210c electric meter, and the General Electric kV2c electric meter.

 

Water Meters

Badger Meter, Inc. v. Sensus USA Inc.

Sensus USA Inc. v. Badger Meter, Inc.

In a game of dueling lawsuits, Sensus filed a complaint on June 16, 2016 against Badger seeking a declaratory judgment of non-infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,539,827 (‘827 Patent), and Badger sued Sensus a week later alleging infringement of the ‘827 Patent.

Sensus sued in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California while Badger filed its complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

The Badger complaint alleges that Sensus’s Ally water meter infringes the ‘827 Patent, entitled “Water meter with integral flow restriction valve.

The ‘827 Patent is directed to a water meter and a flow control valve housed in a common pressure vessel, in which the flow control valve restricts flow through a metering chamber to less than the normal flow, while still permitting a flow sufficient for basic human needs, rather than completely interrupting supply of the utility.

Lighting Controls

SIPCO, LLC v. Acuity Brands, Inc. et al.

Filed June 23, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, the SIPCO complaint asserts six patents against Acuity.

SIPCO alleges that Acuity’s XPoint Wireless sensors and controllers infringe the patents.

The patents-in-suit are U.S. Patent Nos. 8,013,7327,697,4927,468,661, 6,437,692, 6,914,893, and 7,103,511, which relate to remote monitoring and control systems.

Court Finds BU Delay OK in LED Patent Infringement Suit

June 17th, 2016

BU

Previous posts, e.g., here and here, reported on Boston University’s LED patent enforcement activity.  A recent decision handed down by a Massachusetts federal court hearing infringement lawsuits against Epistar and Everlight Electronics made an interesting ruling on the defense of laches.

Laches is neglect or delay in bringing suit which causes harm to the adverse party.  A successful laches defense acts as an equitable bar on the plaintiff’s claim or can limit the time period for potential damages, reducing a defendant’s financial exposure.  One key question in a laches inquiry is when the plaintiff knew about a defendant’s infringement; plaintiff’s knowledge of infringement can start the laches period.

Accused of infringing U.S. Patent No. 5,686,738 (‘738 Patent), defendants Epistar and Everlight asserted the defense of laches, arguing that BU unreasonably delayed bringing suit against them, and the delay caused them economic prejudice.

The ‘738 Patent is entitled “Highly insulated monocrystalline gallium nitride thin films” and is directed to gallium nitride semiconductor devices and methods of preparing highly insulating GaN single crystal films in a molecular beam epitaxial growth chamber.

The laches issue was complicated by a timeline dating back to 2001 during which multiple parties, including predecessors of the defendants, were involved in selling allegedly infringing products and other parties licensed the ‘738 Patent.

In March 2001, BU and Cree entered into an exclusive license agreement, which required Cree to enforce the ‘738 Patent against infringers, but did not require Cree to bring more than one infringement suit at a time.  BU and Cree ended that arrangement in January 2012, and BU took back control of the ‘738 Patent.

According to the court decision, BU was aware of infringement as early as April 2002, when BU’s head of licensing wrote in an internal draft presentation that United Epitaxy was infringing the ‘738 Patent.  United Epitaxy (UE) merged with Epistar in 2005, and there is no evidence that Epistar continued to make UE products after the merger.

Epistar pointed to this knowledge of possible infringement by Epistar’s predecessor company UE to assert a “tacking” theory of laches, i.e., they urged the court to tack together the full period of time from the 2012 filing date of the lawsuit all the way back to BU’s knowledge of UE’s potential infringement in 2002.

However, Epistar could not show that the predecessor products the same or similar to the accused products in this case, so the court rejected the tacking argument:

Because Epistar failed to provide sufficient evidence that its predecessors’ products were the same or similar to the accused products in this case . . . Epistar’s “tacking argument fails.

The court found Cree was not aware of Epistar’s infringement until October 2010, which was a short enough period before BU brought the lawsuit that laches did not apply.

Everlight, on the other hand, succeeded in its tacking argument.  In May 2004, Cree accused Fairchild Semiconductor of infringing the ‘738 Patent; at that time, Everlight was making LED products for Fairchild based on Fairchild’s specifications.  In 2006, Everlight purchased Fairchild’s LED business assets.

The court therefore found tacking of infringement knowledge back to 2004 for Everlight and a presumption of laches:

[T]his Court finds that Everlight is the “successor-in-interest” to Fairchild’s LED business.  Because Everlight has satisfied the requirements for “tacking” and Cree knew of the Fairchild-Everlight LED business purchase in 2006, this Court finds that Cree’s knowledge of Everlight’s infringing activity “tacks” back to 2004, more than six years before BU filed this suit.  Therefore, the presumption of laches applies with respect to Everlight.

Although the 8-year period from 2004 to the lawsuit filing date in 2012 was reduced somewhat due to other factors, the court went on to find two sub-periods of time unreasonable:

[G]iven BU’s failure to provide any acceptable excused for the periods from May 2004 to September 2006, and from March 2009 to October 2012, BU has failed to rebut the presumption of laches and Everlight has proven that these delays were unreasonable.

But that wasn’t the end of the story; Everlight still had to show material economic prejudice as a result of BU’s unreasonable delay in bringing suit.

And that they failed to do.  Everlight could not provide the actual percentage of its costs directly attributable to designing packages for Epistar’s infringing LED chips or the economic impact of altering its production processes.

Everlight argued it could have stopped purchasing Epistar LED chips if BU had sued earlier.  However, Everlight had very close ties with Epistar, including holding $100 million in Epistar stock, such that any reduction in Epistar’s profits would have economically harmed Everlight.  Epistar also provided Everlight with its non-infringement analysis and denied infringement.

Accordingly, the court was not convinced that, had BU sued sooner, Everlight would have avoided infringement liability by ceasing its purchase of Epistar LED chips and altering its LED package design:

This Court finds it unlikely that, had BU sued earlier, Everlight – with its close ties to Epistar, Epistar’s noninfringement and invalidity analysis, and its indemnity agreement – would have ceased purchasing Epistar chips and altered its LED package design based on such a small percentage of its total worldwide sales.  Because Everlight has failed to prove a nexus between BU’s delay in filing suit and any economic prejudice, this Court finds for the plaintiff on the issue of laches with respect to Everlight.

Thus, the court went on to award BU $9.3 million in damages from Epistar and $4 million from Everlight, plus prejudgement and post judgement interest from both parties.