Ford Infringed Automatic Turn Signal Technology, According to New Lawsuit

By Joseph Mandour on March 6, 2014

Patent InfringementOrange County – Execs at Ford Motor Co. are busy fending off the second patent infringement lawsuit they have been faced with this month.  This one was filed in the District Court of the United States for the District of Delaware by an American inventor named Richard Ponziani, who claims that Ford willfully infringed on his patent for turn signal technology.

The specific patent in question is “Electronic Intelligent Turn Signal Control System,” which was issued to Mr. Ponziani on August 5, 2008.   The filing covers the technology whereby the “three-blink” lane change turn signal is automatically activated when a driver changes lanes.  After the three blinks have occurred, the blinker then automatically shuts off, eliminating the need to shut off the signal.

The complaint details how Ford allegedly became aware of Ponziani’s patent back in 2009 and then continued to manufacture vehicles including his invention without permission.  It specifies how Mr. Ponziani entered into communications with Ford and alleges that he traveled to the company’s Dearborn, Michigan-based headquarters in February 2010 and “presented slides and discussions about his turn signal technology to a roomful of Ford employees.” Ponziani claims that he went on to discuss the possibly of licensing the patent and was told by a Ford executive that the company was not interested.

The lawsuit also names TRW Automotive as a contributory infringer for its part in “actively inducing the infringing manufacture, sale and offer for sale of the accused Ford vehicles within the United States which incorporate TRW’s Steering Column Control Modules.”  The Steering Column Control Modules house the turn signal technology in Ford models.

Ponziani’s invention came as a much needed solution to what was cited in a popular 2009 list of “top ten driving pet peeves”, namely drivers forgetting to turn off their turn signals after changing lanes.  Since the patented turn signal system shuts off automatically, drivers cannot forget to turn off the signal because it will have turned off for them.

According to documents filed with the court, the Ford vehicles that currentl... Read the rest

Apple and Samsung are Back at it in Patent Battle

By Joseph Mandour on February 17, 2014

Intellectual Property Infringement San Diego – The nation’s two top mobile device makers will head back to court next month to duke it out yet again.  This trial, the third between the big name rivals, will start March 31st and will cover five patents and a total of twenty devices that the companies respectively claim are infringing.   The setting is familiar for both companies, as it will take place in the same courthouse and will be heard by the same judge as the last two trials.


According to several reports, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung Co-CEO JK Shin attempted to resolve the dispute informally through mediation talks.  It appears that those negotiations have failed, however, as a Korean newspaper recently reported that Shin is back in Korea and has stated that he has no plans to return to the United States before the February 19th deadline for settlement talks.  This comes as little surprise, as both have remained stern in their positions against one another.  It also mirrors the situation that occurred in 2012 as the two met to try to resolve the last dispute before ultimately going to trial, where a jury ended up awarding $1 billion to Apple for patent infringement damages.

With a bitter feeling left over from 2012,  Samsung is alleging this time that Apple has infringed its patents with its iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Mini, iPod Touch (5th generation), iPod Touch (4th generation) and MacBook Pro.  Apple, on the other hand, claims that Samsung’s Admire, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S2, Galaxy S2 Epic 4G Touch, Galaxy S 2 Skyrocket, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and Stratosphere are all infringing its own patents.

Depending on the result of the trial, either company could face serious problems if forced to pull products off shelves due to an injunction.  Given that many of the devices that Samsung has taken issue with are somewhat new rereleases, Apple could stand to lose more than Samsung with a loss.  Regardless, it is evident that the war between these two is far from over.

... Read the rest

Cell Phone Controlled Drone Maker Sues Rival for Patent Infringement

By Joseph Mandour on February 11, 2014

drone-150x150 Los Angeles – Drone Technologies, Inc., a Taiwanese company that specializes in the manufacture of remote controlled drone devices is taking Parrot Inc. to court for allegedly infringing on some of its patents.  After squabbling back and forth about the alleged infringement since 2012, Drone Technologies has decided to file a formal complaint in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh.

According to the lawsuit, the company made Parrot aware of the infringement over two years ago.  Specifically, it claims that two of its patents, which surround the use of magnetometers and accelerometers in smartphones to control drones, were infringed upon by Parrot’s FreeFlight App.  Parrot, which sells toy drones, encouraged users to download the application to use their phones and tablets to control the movements of their toys.

When it brought the infringement to Parrot’s attention, Drone Technologies claims that Parrot recognized the issue and made a temporary attempt to eliminate the infringement by modifying its application to use technology other than magnetometers and accelerometers to navigate the drones.   Once Parrot drone users started complaining that the new app did not work, however, Parrot went back to using the magnetometers and accelerometers, thereby again infringing on Drone Technologies’ patents.  Now Drone Technologies is demanding an injunction preventing Parrot from using the technology at issue, as well as compensatory damages resulting from the infringement.

Parrot has yet to issue a response of any kind to the pending case.  The French-based company, which was launched in 1994, has seen a swath of recent success, most notably with its popular AR.Drone 2.0.  It is estimated that since the original AR.Drone was released, over 500,000 have been sold, making it the post popular toy drone ever.  Its success has been much attributed to its ease of flight and sleek design.  Though with a price tag starting at $200, the toys are an expensive hobby.

In addition to its best selling, lightweight toy drone, Parrot sells an array of other innovative devices, most of which are controlled by Parrot-created smartphone and tablet apps.  Some of Parrot’s best known products outside of the drone market are ... Read the rest

Blackberry Goes After Ryan Seacrest’s iPhone Keyboard for Patent Infringement

By Joseph Mandour on January 17, 2014

iphone-apps San Diego – Blackberry Ltd. has filed a federal lawsuit in San Francisco against Typo Products LLC, alleging patent infringement of its smartphone designs.   Blackberry’s lead counsel announced the filing and said that Typo’s product “is a blatant infringement against BlackBerry’s iconic keyboard, and we will vigorously protect our intellectual property against any company that attempts to copy our unique design.”  He did not expand on whether or not his company had attempted to come to an agreement with the Los Angeles-based startup before filing its complaint.


The Typo device, which is available for sale for $99, features a keyboard that snaps onto the iPhone 5 or 5s, much like a protective case.  The full-size “QWERTY” keyboard is then attached to the bottom of the iPhone, covering the traditional touch sensor that Apple is known for.  Ryan Seacrest, who is a part owner of Typo, has said that he and his team came up with the idea for the Typo keyboard because they wanted a faster and more efficient way to type on their iPhones.  Indeed, Typo alleges that its studies have shown that testers reported up to 50% faster typing speeds when using the Typo keyboard as opposed to the standard on-screen iPhone keyboard.

Physically, when the Typo is fitted onto the iPhone, it looks strikingly similar to the Blackberry.  The keyboard is almost identical to that of Blackberry, with some subtle differences.  For example, the Typo has a Bluetooth option on the “0” key, which Blackberry does not have.  The Typo also uniquely has light bulb and mail icons on the bottom row of keys.  Despite these minor variations, Blackberry contends that Typo “blatantly copied” the physical keyboard that it is known for, effectively allowing consumers to turn any iPhone into a Blackberry, without having to pay for a Blackberry.

This lawsuit could be Blackberry’s make or break moment, as the company has seen a steady drop in sales over the past few years, with many tech experts predicting its impending end coming soon. Despite its efforts to keep up with Apple and Samsung with its development of a few touch-screen only phones, Blackberry has been unable to resurface as a major smar... Read the rest

Samsung Patent Reveals Plans for a Futuristic Foldable Smartphone Display

By Joseph Mandour on January 6, 2014

Intellectual Property Infringement California – The next generation of Samsung smartphones will likely feature a game changing foldable dual screen, as revealed by a patent filed in Korea.

The Seoul-headquartered company confirmed its plans to make the foldable screens a reality, with its CEO, Kwon Oh-hyeon, stating at an analyst’s conference last month that it “would lead innovation by introducing the ‘foldable’ display in 2015.” Given that the patent was recently found to have been filed back in 2012, experts have expressed concern over whether the new technology could actually hit the worldwide market by 2015.

Regardless of the timing of the foldable screen’s introduction to the mainstream market, the newly surfaced patent filing has people excited. The very detailed patent application notes that the screen may fold by means of a hinge, or possibly just by bending. In addition, it provides a real life glimpse at the many possible applications of the display by including several artistic configurations of the new device in action.

Among those that stand out the most are a rendering of a “clipboard” on one half of the screen and a message display in the other, whereby the user can find and drag files or pictures into the message half of the display. There is also an example of an e-book type of display, which makes the folding smartphone look very much like a traditional book, with pages on both sides that the user may flip through. The filing also suggests the potential for expanded video conferencing capability with the folding screen as well as an embodiment of the way that the screen could fold backwards to stand up on a desk or table and then connect to other nearby devices for interactive gaming.

Samsung has previously filed patent applications for smartphones with flexible concave screen displays, which are set to materialize in the company’s unveiling of its Galaxy Round phone, rumored to hit shelves next year. Samsung is not the first to jump on to the bendable screen trend. Electronics rivals including LG, Sony, and Microsoft have already filed similar patent applications for their own variations on the flexible display. But despite the brewing competition, Samsung appears to be ahead of the... Read the rest

Beardo Sues over Bearded Hats Patent Dispute

By Joseph Mandour on November 19, 2013

shaver-thumb-200x149-76802California – In a complaint filed last Wednesday, Beardo, Inc. brought a lawsuit under the name of its parent company, Stat Ltd., claiming that three other companies have infringed on its popular hat design.

The Beardo hats, which are sold online and in stores across the nation, are similar to traditional ski hats or beanies except that they feature an attached piece in the shape of a beard that covers the face. In its complaint, Beardo claims that two California companies and one in Utah willfully infringed on the design, for which it holds a patent.

The patent, which is entitled, “Combined ski face mask and hat”, covers the entire hat and “beard” portion of the accessory and was filed in August of 2011. The allegedly infringing companies, namely Beard Head, Bearded Apparel and Neon Eaters, have not yet responded to the claims against them, but Beardo has demanded that all three immediately stop producing their own hats and that they also pay compensatory and punitive damages. Beard Head offers three types of beard hats that range from “Stubble” to “Long” while Neon Eater offers a “Lumberjack” hat with a detachable beard.

In the complaint, Beardo argues that its “design is inherently distinctive, or alternatively, has acquired secondary meaning” and that, “The famousness and popularity of Beardo’s design is reflected in the significant efforts Beardo (and/or its owner) have taken to publicize its products, in its significant publicity Beardo’s design has received, and by its significant popularity amongst consumers of combined ski facemasks and hats.” To prove its popularity among consumers, Beardo points out that at the time of the complaint, it had 165,737 ‘likes’ on its Facebook page, while Beard Head had 15,869 ‘likes’ and Neon Eaters had only 350 ‘likes.’

According to the Beardo website, consumers can now purchase hats with attached beards, detachable beards or no beards at all, in addition to facemasks and other accessories. Currently, the products are available to customers in seven countries, including founder Jeff Phillips’ home country of Canada. Given tha... Read the rest

New Patent Battle Marks A New Chapter in Apple vs. Google Lawsuit Saga

By Joseph Mandour on September 18, 2013

Patent DisputeLos Angeles – Apple and Google are back in court, this time to argue over whether a judge should reopen a case over patented technology featured in their smartphones.   The latest in the blow by blow between the two companies happened last week when Motorola Mobility, Inc., a subsidiary of Google, Inc. filed an appeal that an older case be reopened.   The original lawsuit, filed in 2010, quickly snowballed into a tangle with each company claiming that the other had infringed the other’s patents by including certain technology in their respective smartphones.   Notably, Motorola charged that Apple had infringed one of its most basic essential patents that functions to make the phone power on.


Given the complexity of the original back and forth lawsuits, the cases were consolidated only to be thrown out by famed IP expert Judge Richard Posner.   In his dismissal of the cases, Judge Posner found that neither company had presented sufficient evidence to sustain the claims brought forth.   It is in response to this dismissal that Motorola petitioned that the case be reopened.

In last week’s hearing, the Google-owned Android operator argued that the case should be remanded so that it may have the chance to prove that Apple should pay for use of its patented technology.   The three-judge panel who presided over the hearing focused their questions on whether or not the two companies had tried hard enough to work out a deal between themselves outside of court.

The trio of judges expressed concern that one or both of the companies could be classified as an “unwilling licensee,” referring to a party who does not in good faith attempt to pay to license an invention it has infringed upon.  Counsel for Apple argued vigorously on this point, claiming that Apple was far from being an unwilling licensee and that Motorola had unfairly demanded that Apple pay over 12 times what it had asked to license the subject technology in the past.

Aside from the licensing issues, both sides also presented arguments over each other’s expert witnesses.  Ultimately,  Judge Posner denied one of Apple’s proposed experts and two of Motorola’s.   Now that the hearing for remand has taken place, the ... Read the rest

Judge Dismisses Patent Infringement Claims between Rival Diaper Companies Based on Laches

By Joseph Mandour on July 31, 2013

California PatentOrange County – The case between two rival diaper companies over patent infringement claims was dismissed by a Kentucky judge on Monday, who ruled that Swedish-based SCA Hygiene Products AB took too long to file claims against First Quality Baby Products LLC.

The patent at the heart of the case is U.S. Patent No. 6,375,646 titled “Absorbent pants-type diapers.”  The patent for these Swedish-designed diapers was originally filed in 1992, but was not granted by the U.S. Patent Office until 2002.

This product is one of many generally known as “pull-up diapers.”  They are the diapers typically worn by toddlers who require more mobility than traditional diapers allow and are learning to be potty trained.  These pants-type diapers are also used by adults with incontinence issues.

Records indicate that SCA was aware of the Infringement by First Quality since at least October 2003, when it sent a cease and desist letter informing the company of its prior patent rights.  First Quality responded, arguing that SCA’s patent ending in ‘646 was not valid.

First Quality cited a prior patent, U.S. Patent No. 5,415,649, which allegedly covers the same innovation as the ‘646 patent.  It argued that this earlier patent nullified any protection provided by the ‘646 patent, so it is free to continue production of its own pants-type diapers.

First Quality believed that its response had resolved the matter, so it continued production of its diapers.  SCA did not take any further action against First Quality until 2010, when it filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Kentucky.

SCA argues that the delay in taking action is the result of reexamining its patent rights and obtaining new counsel.

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr. ruled that by waiting 7 years to file a formal complaint against First Quality, it unreasonably delayed the proceeding and therefore lost its ability to proceed.

The judge argued that by not immediately proceeding after the cease and desist letter, SCA led First Quality to believe that it had dropped its claims against the diaper maker.  First Quality made substantial investments in continuing to produce its pants-type diapers, Judge McKinley argued, which it ... Read the rest

Major Victory for Tech Firms Against “Plug-In” Patent Infringement Claims

By Joseph Mandour on July 26, 2013

Patent Dispute Los Angeles – An appeals court on Monday affirmed a lower court ruling for Google, Inc., Yahoo, Inc., and Amazon.com, Inc. against patent infringement claims brought by Eolas Technologies, Inc.

The decision, originally made by a jury in 2012 in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas, invalidated two patents held by Michael Doyle for interactive internet technology.

Doyle was a computer programmer at University of California, San Francisco in 1993 when he oversaw a project that allowed multiple scientists to watch a live streaming video simultaneously over the Internet for the first time.  Along with David Martin and Cheong Ang, Doyle filed for patent protection for this innovation in October 1994, and the University of California sponsored his application.

The patent was granted in November 1998, with U.S. Patent Number 5,838,906, titled “Distributed hypermedia method for automatically invoking external application providing interaction and display of embedded objects within a hypermedia document.”

Michael Doyle formed Eolas Technologies to defend his patents, which were some of the earliest granted for Internet related innovations.  The company, which sells no products, has made millions of dollars from lawsuits against major Internet retailers for infringement of Doyle’s inventions.

This decision struck a major blow to Eolas.  Eolas claimed that protection of its patent, first granted in 1998, extended to all interactive features on websites, known as plug-ins, which include auto-fill, embedded videos, and map technology.

Eolas has argued that nearly every major website today violates its patents and has aggressively defended its rights through a multitude of lawsuits.

In 1999, Eolas brought patent infringement claims against Microsoft for aspects of its Internet Explorer browser.  A jury found Microsoft liable for $540 million in damages to Eolas, but the two sides settled out of court after Microsoft agreed to pay more than $100 million to Eolas and its co-plaintiff, the University of California.

Since then, Eolas has sued countless other corporations for the interactive elements of their websites.  Even after its 2012 jury loss, Eolas brought patent infringe... Read the rest

Activision Takes on Mazda over Patent Infringement

By Joseph Mandour on July 17, 2013

watchLos Angeles – Car manufacturer Mazda Motor of America, Inc. was hit with a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Delaware on July 9, when Activision TV, Inc. filed a complaint alleging patent infringement.


Activision, a Delaware Corporation, claims that Mazda infringed its patents for electronic displays in its new line of vehicles.  The patents, U.S. Patent Nos. 7,369,058 and 8,330,613 are both titled “Remote Control Electronic Display System” and were granted in 2008 and 2012, respectively.  Activision develops flat-screen displays with computers fully integrated into the screen.

The allegedly infringing use has to do with Mazda’s “digital signage systems” which are located in its car dealerships across the country.  Mazda is a Japanese-based car manufacturing company with American headquarters in Irvine, California.

Activision claims that it notified Mazda of the infringement on February 7 and claims that all continued use of the infringing technology beyond that date constitutes willful infringement.  It argues that such willful infringement entitles the company to payment of enhanced damages by Mazda.

In the complaint, the company claims that it suffered irreparable injury from Mazda’s infringement, which can only be remedied by a court injunction.

Activision has been on a tear in district court as of late, bringing patent infringement lawsuits against Harley-Davidson, Inc., CenturyLink, Inc., and Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. all in the past month.  All of the related cases claim patent infringement for the same two patents, Nos. ‘058 and ‘613, which are also  named in the case against Mazda.  While the lawsuits against Harley-Davidson and Build-A-Bear were filed in Delaware, the case against CenturyLink will proceed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas.

Mazda claims that it obtained the infringing technology from a supplier not affiliated with the company, and would expect Activision to resolve its claims with the supplier directly.

This is not the only patent infringement claim currently pending against Mazda.  The automaker was named along with other major American automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan North America, Inc. and Ford Motor Co. in a patent infri... Read the rest

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