A small Swedish company now has dozens of lawsuits circulating in the digital billboard industry, suing those media companies for patent infringement, based on a suite of patents related to using a computer to remotely control digital signs.
The company is called T-Rex Property AB, and has been around since 2003. I’m not sure it can be called a non-practising entity, or patent troll, as the company notes it has (or had, it’s not clear) “real time advertising system” contracts in places like the London Underground. Trolls are more typically known as companies comprised of speculative investors and their lawyers, that aren’t actually in the business related to the patent.
The outdoor media blog Billboard Insider reports that T-Rex has acquired 12 patents for outdoor advertising products, and since 2012 has been suing most of the well known media companies in the US. The defendants in 44 lawsuits filed have included Lamar, Clear Channel, Outfront, Adams, Fairway, Renfro, Durden, Barnes, Las Vegas Billboards, Total, Stokely and Maxmedia.
Billboard Insider has the full list of lawsuits and the specific complaints here.
Some companies have opted to settle, such as Watchfire, Daktronics and Formetco. That means their media company clients are now indemnified from litigation.
While the legal actions started with the outdoor LED board business, it looks like T-Rex is spreading its net. The most recent lawsuits have gone after companies like Adspace, Captivate and Zoom, which are indoor media companies using LCDs.
It’s not a big reach to think this could follow the path of patent troll Activision, which went after the customers of digital signage software companies – with retailers and brands who did nothing but license software from CMS companies getting slapped with patent infringement lawsuits.