IP Innovation LLC has just filed a patent infringement claim against Red Hat and Novell. It was filed October 9, case no. 2:2007cv00447, IP Innovation, LLC et al v. Red Hat Inc. et al, in Texas. Where else? The patent troll magnet state.
The first ever patent infringement litigation involving Linux. Here's the patent, for those who can look at it without risk. If in doubt, don't. Here's the complaint [PDF].
And now let's play, where's Microsoft? You know, like where's Waldo? Betcha he's in the tree's leaves somewhere if we look close enough. We had our first hint when Steve Ballmer said in his speech the other day that he figured other folks besides Microsoft would want Red Hat and FOSS to pay them for their patents. Remember? Is he a prophet or merely well informed? Or is there more to this? When I lay out all the research, you can decide.
The plaintiff is asking for an injunction, along with damages:
Plaintiffs IP Innovation and Technology Licensing Corp. claim to have the rights to U.S. Patent No. 5,072,412 for a User Interface with Multiple Workspaces for Sharing Display System Objects issued Dec. 10, 1991 along with two other similar patents.
Defendants Red Hat Inc. and Novell have allegedly committed acts of infringement through products including the Red Hat Linux system, the Novell Suse Linex Enterprise Desktop and the Novell Suse Linex Enterprise Server.
"Red Hat's and Novell's infringement, contributory infringement and inducement to infringe has injured plaintiffs and plaintiffs are entitled to recover damages adequate to compensate them for such infringement but in no event less than a reasonable royalty," the original complaint states.
The plaintiffs also allege that defendants received notice of the patents, therefore the infringing activities have been deliberate and willful.
Plaintiffs are seeking an injunction from the court, increased damages and other relief that the court or a jury may deem just and proper.
T. John Ward Jr. of Ward & Smith Law Firm in Longview is representing the plaintiff.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Leonard E. Davis.
You might recall the patent was used in litigation against Apple in April 2007, and Beta News reported at the time that it's a 1991 Xerox PARC patent.
But ars technica provided the detail that it references earlier patents going back to 1984. Appropriately enough. If you use Google to search for "IP Innovation LLC 5,072,412" you'll find more.
Note that it's IP Innovation, not plural. There is another company using IP Innovations. I gather Apple paid them to go away in June.
This patent has been pointed to as an example of the need for patent reform.
Patent Troll Tracker claims that
IP Innovation LLC is a subsidiary of Acacia. More here.
Law.com did a story on Acacia in February, "Extreme Makeover: From Patent Troll to the Belle of the Ball."
Well, well. Could this be Waldo? Groklaw reader dio gratia provided some links that you'll find of interest.
Is this a coincidence or what?
Acacia Research Reports Second Quarter 2007 Financial Results
BUSINESS WIRE - July 26, 2007 04:00 PM US Eastern Timezone
In July 2007, Acacia Research Corporation announced that Jonathan Taub
joined its Acacia Technologies group as Vice President. Mr. Taub joins
Acacia from Microsoft, where he was Director, Strategic Alliances for the
Mobile and Embedded Devices (MED) division since 2004. Mr. Taub developed
strategic initiatives and constructed and negotiated agreements enabling MED
to be Microsoft's fastest growing revenue division. He received a 2006
Heroes and Key Achievers award from Microsoft for negotiating strategic
deals with Qualcomm and STMicroelectronics. From 2002 to 2004 he was
Business Development Manager for Microsoft's Security Business Unit, where
he co-led Microsoft's anti-virus business strategy.
Prior to joining Microsoft, Mr. Taub was Director, Business Development with
Nortel Networks and was an intellectual property and corporate law Associate
with Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. Mr. Taub holds a B.S. from the
University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business and a J.D. from
Harvard Law School.
And lookee here:
Acacia Technologies Names Brad Brunell, Former Microsoft General Manager, Intellectual Property Licensing, to Management Team
Monday October 1, 6:01 am ET
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Acacia Research Corporation (NASDAQ:ACTG - News) announced today that its Acacia Technologies group, a leader in technology licensing, has named Brad Brunell as Senior Vice President.
Mr. Brunell joins Acacia from Microsoft, where during his 16 year career he held a number of management positions, including General Manager, Intellectual Property Licensing.
Acacia Chairman & CEO, Paul Ryan commented "Mr. Brunell is a great addition to our management team. His business strategy, licensing and intellectual property experience will be extremely valuable as we continue to build our leadership position in technology licensing."
Mr. Brunell, as General Manager, Intellectual Property Licensing, was responsible for inbound and outbound patent licensing. He created and managed a team of negotiation, financial and legal experts which developed outbound intellectual property licensing programs and brought in intellectual property via acquisitions, strategic partnerships and licensing.
Previously as a Senior Director he was in a strategy role focusing on digital media adoption which included key deals with Time Warner and the Walt Disney Company, leading the negotiating team for the settlement of the Intertrust patent litigation, and putting together the Content Guard ownership structure between Microsoft, Time Warner and Thomson. He also served on the board of Content Guard, a digital rights management patent licensing company.
His earlier career responsibilities as a Group Manager included managing business groups responsible for Microsoft's Digital Rights Management technologies in the Windows client product group and business development for Core Audio/Video technologies within the Windows platform. Most recently he was a General Manager focused on incubation of new products and services.
Prior to Microsoft, Mr. Brunell owned a marketing company which he formed while earning a B.A. degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.
ABOUT ACACIA RESEARCH CORPORATION
The Acacia Technologies group develops, acquires, and licenses patented technologies. Acacia controls 81 patent portfolios covering technologies used in a wide variety of industries including audio/video enhancement & synchronization, broadcast data retrieval, computer memory cache coherency, credit card fraud protection, database management, data encryption & product activation, digital media transmission (DMTŪ), digital video production, dynamic manufacturing modeling, enhanced Internet navigation, image resolution enhancement, interactive data sharing, interactive television, laptop docking station connectivity, microprocessor enhancement, multi-dimensional bar codes, resource scheduling, spreadsheet automation, and user activated Internet advertising.
Information about the Acacia Technologies group is available at www.acaciatechnologies.com....
So in July one Microsoft executive arrives; then as of October 1, there is the second, a patent guy. October 9, IP Innovation, a subsidiary, sues Red Hat. And Novell. So much for being Microsoft's little buddy.
I think SCO II has arrived. Except it won't be just one. It will be one after another, just like Ballmer predicted. Until Linux gives up the ghost. In their dreams. Here's how to fix it: fix the patent regime, as Ballmer calls it. Otherwise, it will destroy all innovation and you'll be stuck in Vista. Eek. Plus at this rate, I'll never get a vacation.
Filed & Entered: 10/09/2007
Docket Text: COMPLAINT against Red Hat Inc., Novell Inc. ( Filing fee $ 350 receipt number 1290837.), filed by IP Innovation, LLC., Technology Licensing Corporation. (Attachments: # (1) Exhibit A # (2) Exhibit B # (3) Exhibit C# (4) Civil Cover Sheet # (5) List of Parties)(Ward, Thomas)
Filed & Entered: 10/09/2007
Notice of Filing of Patent/Trademark Form (AO 120)
Docket Text: Notice of Filing of Patent/Trademark Form (AO 120). AO 120 mailed to the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. (Attachments: # (1) Form AO 120)(Ward, Thomas)
Filed & Entered: 10/09/2007
Docket Text: E-GOV SEALED SUMMONS Issued as to Red Hat Inc., Novell Inc.. (ch, )
Filed & Entered: 10/11/2007
Notice of Attorney Appearance
Docket Text: NOTICE of Attorney Appearance by Eric M. Albritton on behalf of IP Innovation, LLC., Technology Licensing Corporation (Albritton, Eric)
Note that Exhibits A-C are the patent filing, if you wish to avoid it.
Discovery should be fascinating. I'd say now is a good time to study. There's plenty of information on what constitutes prior art on the Peer to Patent website. I told you I thought that training might come in handy. Here are their tutorials. More resources on Groklaw's Patents resources page and on the Legal Research page. Oh, and don't forget to review the Supreme Court's new standard for obviousness. Here are the new USPTO guidelines on obviousness [PDF]. Next, let's sit tight for now, and see what will be most helpfu. So don't share yet anything. You can email me anything you think I might want to know.
Update: Here's a third ex-Microsoft employee, now a VP at Acacia. On the other side of the board, though, we have this nugget of information, that Acacia has sued Microsoft in the past also. I gather they sue everybody. It's their business model.
Update: The Acacia About Us page has changed since 2007, so the ex-Microsoft employees, Robert DePirro and Jacob Hawley, no longer appear, so I've altered the link to Wayback, so you can see how it looked back in 2007.