Monday, December 20, 2021

Intellectual Ventures partner (or subsidiary) Liberty Patents sues Toyota, Subaru, BlackBerry over patent on software updates

When Intellectual Ventures predicted an "IP reckoning" for the automotive industry, it presumably had its enforcement action against General Motors, Toyota, and Honda (Eastern District of Texas) already prepared. Meanwhile, Sivel v. Ford and especially Acer v. Volkswagen have drawn even more interest in the automotive patent litigation arena. Automotive patent lawsuits get filed pretty much every week, and it now turns out that a patent previously assigned to Intellectual Ventures is being enforced in the Eastern District of Texas by a non-practicing entity with the patriotic name of Liberty Patents against Toyota, Subaru, and BlackBerry (this post continues below the document):

21-12-17 Liberty Patents v.... by Florian Mueller

I don't know whether Liberty Patents is an Intellectual Ventures affiliate or an independent third party that struck a deal with IV resulting in the assignment of 130 former IV patents according to RPX.

The patent-in-suit, over which Liberty Patents is seeking not only damages but also a permanent injunction (it won't expire before 2024), is U.S. Patent No. 7,493,612 on an "embedded system and related method capable of automatically updating system software." BlackBerry's QNX platform, Toyota, and Subaru provide over-the-air software upgrades. In Subaru's case, the complaint mentions the Subaru Crosstek with its STARLINK system, driver asisstance software, and "other systems that utilize the Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) platform" found in such vehicles as the Subaru Ascent, Forester, Impreza, Legacy, Outback, and WRX. The infringement allegations against Toyota also involve AGL, with a wide range of models being mentioned (such as the Toyota Camry, Avalon, C-HR, Corolla, GR Supra, Mirai, Prius, RAV4, and Sienna).

This Liberty Patents case is an example of non-standard-essential patents being asserted against the automotive industry. Another example would be a complaint by an entity named Aprese Systems Texas against Nissan in the Western District of Texas over U.S. Patent No. 8.732,697 on a "system, method and apparatus for managing applications on a device."

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