The Mouse That Roared


I just got through reading the latest on Intellectual Ventures, and how RIM was the newest licensee of their massive patent portfolio, when I saw an easy-to-miss press release about a company with one allegedly infringed patent … but one integral to mobile e-commerce … and 32 powerhouses being accused. My first thought was, is RIM amongst the accused? Yes, I’m afraid they are. 

The case is H-W Technologies L.C. v. Apple Inc.; check out this partial list of the defendants:

Amazon

Apple

Buy.com

eBay

Expedia

Google

Hotels.com

HTC

Kyocera

LG

Microsoft

Motorola

Orbitz

Priceline

RIM (RIM can’t buy a break.)

Samsung

Sony Ericsson

Verizon

Counting multiple divisions from the same parent, there are 32 defendants listed in the complaint.

Patent 7,525,955 was issued on April 28, 2009. (It was filed on March 17, 2005, and benefits from a priority date of March 19, 2004.) Here’s the patent Abstract, though it is less useful to the focus of this action than is Claim 1 in the patent itself, as we will see.

A software platform in an Internet Protocol (IP) phone having the ability to be used with different communication infrastructures such as broadband, wireless communication and Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) service. Further, the software platform in the IP phone has the ability to be used with different applications operating on the IP phone. Further, the IP phone has the ability to perform additional functionality than traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) phones, such as searches and advertising, given its ability to converge voice and data within a single terminal.

An IP Internet Protocol is a packet-based protocol for delivering data across networks. An IP phone is also called an Internet phone or broadband phone. An IP phone plugs into a broadband Internet connection to make and receive VoIP calls over the Internet.

Though several claims are described in the patent, claim #1 is where the plaintiff sees the infringement.

1. A system, comprising: an Internet Protocol (IP) phone coupled to a server, wherein said IP phone is configured to receive contextual information from said server, wherein said IP phone comprises: a memory unit operable for storing a computer program for performing contextual searches; a processor coupled to said memory unit, wherein said processor, responsive to said computer program, comprises: circuitry for receiving a command to perform a contextual search; circuitry for receiving search criteria; circuitry for submitting said search criteria to said server; and circuitry for receiving from said server a list of merchants matching said search criteria and information regarding each of said merchants in said list; wherein a user of said IP phone completes a transaction with at least one of said merchants listed without the need to generate a voice call; wherein said information received by said user of said IP phone comprises a variety of offers, wherein said user selects one of said variety of offers associated with said one of said merchants listed, wherein said selected offer is transmitted to said one of said merchants listed electronically; and wherein said user's contact and payment information is not transmitted to said one of said merchants listed, wherein said user's contact and payment information is available to said one of said merchants listed.

Paragraph 39 of the filing is more instructive as it pinpoints the alleged offense.

The ‘955 is generally directed to novel, unique and non-obvious systems and methods of using a multi-convergence device, including phones commonly referred to as “smartphones”, which are able to converge voice and data within a single terminal, and which allow users of such devices via domain specific applications to receive information and offers from merchants and to complete a transaction with one of said merchants without having to generate a voice call.

Simply stated, the suit is based upon H-W belief that the toll turnstyle they constructed to allow a SmartPhone to complete a transaction with a merchant without placing a voice call is being deliberately jumped.

No strangers to patent litigation, H-W attorneys are Winston O. Huff, and Arthur Navarro, Navarro Huff, PLLC  Dallas TX, who appear to have carved out a recent reputation litigating false marking claims.

H-W wants a jury trial, and damages calculations will await the findings.


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