Infringement Litigation is a Double-Edged Sword: Intellectual Property Analysis of Sharp Corporation’s U.S. Patent No. 7,057,689
On January 24, 2011, Sharp filed two complaints claiming infringement of seven of its LCD-related patents. A lawsuit was filed in Delaware against AU Optronics Corp. and a complaint was filed with the ITC naming AU Optronics, BenQ Corp., Haier Group, LG Electronics, SANYO Electric Co., TCL Corp. and VIZIO, Inc. Sharp has previously tested the litigation waters with one of these seven properties: U.S. Pat. No. 7,057,689 (hereafter ‘689). In August 2007, Sharp filed an infringement claim in the Eastern District of Texas against Samsung. The case was finally settled outside of court in February 2010, and Sharp has apparently decided to recycle its ammunition in these new complaints.
Using the M·CAM DOORS™ analytic platform, an intellectual property analysis of the ‘689 patent was conducted in order to understand its strength and defensibility in the face of prior and concurrent art innovation. The innovation space surrounding the ‘689 patent and its patent family members was examined to determine which patent or patents may provide alternatives to or alter the value of Sharp’s holdings.
M·CAM’s intellectual property analysis has identified examples of uncited precedent innovation that may limit the strength and defensibility of Sharp’s U.S. Pat No. 7,057,689. U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,587,821 and 5,235,450 particularly describe innovations which may predate key aspects of the technology described in Sharp’s ‘689 patent. These two patents, as well as other properties identified in this report, may potentially weaken the claims of the ‘689 and related patents.
It is very interesting that Sharp itself is the single largest patent holder of uncited precedent innovation relevant to its ‘689 patent. In a world where returns on R&D spends are largely judged by numbers of patents granted or even filed, it is no surprise that some companies seem to purposely avoid referencing key examples of their own precedent innovation to increase the odds of issuance.
Having to explain in a courtroom what, to many, may seem like incomplete disclosure at best does not give the perception of a strong case. By attempting to utilize supposed strength in a few patents, Sharp may have exposed weaknesses which could call into doubt the validity and enforceability of substantial parts of its portfolio.ShareThis