Enplug, LG Dealing With Legal Actions From Firm Described As Patent Troll

October 21, 2020 by Dave Haynes

LA-based digital signage CMS software firm Enplug has joined a list of big name tech companies in a joint letter to the U.S. House of Congress seeking patent reforms.

Enplug is among numerous companies tussling with what they call a patent troll – defined as a company that doesn’t actively use or sell the intellectual property it owns, and has no evident plans to develop the technology. The common description of a patent troll company is a firm that is mainly in the business of filing lawsuits that assert patents the company has acquired.

Enplug says it successfully got its suit dismissed with prejudice back in late July.

The company that was going after Enplug is Cedar Lane Technologies, which is based in the old mining town of Nelson, BC, in the Selkirk Mountains region of that Canadian province. It is a great little place nestled in the mountains, and probably has its share of remote knowledge workers and small tech startups, but it is not exactly a major technology hub.

The company’s office is listed as being located at a small commercial law firm in Nelson, and its one director is listed on Linkedin as the principal consultant of Patent Armory, which “identifies high-quality patents suitable for monetization through sales and/or licensing as well as patents that are in demand for defensive purposes.”

I could not find a website for Cedar Lane, which was just incorporated in March 2019, about 18 months ago.

Cedar Lane has also filed against LG for something or other about its webOS media player. This makes me think there may be other digital signage ecosystem companies that are having to chew up billable hours with their lawyers, addressing Cedar Lane filings.

Enplug, in a press release, says it “prides itself in being actively engaged in the tech community and takes the integrity of the patent process very seriously. Enplug is one of 54 companies, along with Google, Intel, Twitter, Amazon, Shopify and Salesforce, that have joined together to take action on this important issue as signatories on a letter to Congress requesting specific patent reforms.”

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) was created in 2011 as part of a larger initiative to level the playing field for companies developing new technologies by removing barriers to innovation. However, recent procedural trends show that contrary to this goal, the PTAB is denying reviews which effectively shields illegitimate patent claims from invalidation.

Patent trolls – individuals and companies that do not make anything or productively employ anyone – are taking advantage of PTAB procedures. When they file frivolous and abusive claims, they hurt the manufacturers and service providers the patent process is designed to protect. As a result, they’re raising the cost of innovation and lengthening the time it takes to bring new technology to market, all without adding any value.

We are asking Congress to to review:

  1. The number of discretionary denial decisions and their rapid growth 
  2. The extent to which such decisions result in denial of meritorious petitions that would otherwise have resulted in the institution of an Inter Partes Review (IPR)
  3. The effects of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) policies on the amount and costs of actual or threatened patent infringement litigation
  4. The economic impact of such policies, specifically including the effect on costs borne by U.S. consumers and businesses

You can read more about the need for patent reform on the website of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which has previously petitioned Congress on the matter.

Innovation is a core value of all the work we do at Enplug. Ensuring effective, fair and timely patent processes is necessary to protect the innovation that forms the backbone of our economy, which is why we stand behind positive patent litigation reform

If you want to see what’s up and actually understand court filings (I mostly don’t), there are numerous legal sites that have the docket and filings, but most or all seems to be behind pay walls.

This is one abstract I found:

Cedar Lane Technologies Inc. continues the expansion of its litigation of former Intellectual Ventures LLC (IV) patents, adding suits against Comcast (1:20-cv-00501), Enplug (1:20-cv-00634), and Liberty Media (SiriusXM) (1:20-cv-03635). This particular campaign has swallowed three other Cedar Lane campaigns, now with over three dozen patents asserted in multiple federal courts, including the Western District of Texas (Comcast), the District of Delaware (Enplug), and the Southern District of New York (SiriusXM). Comcast and SiriusXM are accused of infringement of multiple patents through the provision of media streaming services and related products; Enplug, through its Digital Signage Player media advertisement platform.

I had thought some high court rulings in the U.S. in recent years had slowed down activity by companies labeled as trolls, but as this piece in TechDirt lays out, it is still happening.
The most recent activity involving one of these “non-practicing entities” was a company called T-Rex, which went toe to toe with Broadsign.
  1. Brad says:

    I live in Nelson and only take offence with denouncing Nelson, BC as a technology hub in your article. The Kootenays are rich with tech companies making world impacts. Let’s have a chat so I can change your mind.

    “based in the old mining town of Nelson, BC, in the Selkirk Mountains region of that Canadian province. It is a great little place nestled in the mountains, but not exactly a technology hub.”

    Otherwise, great article.

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