Intellectual Property Analysis of Imperium (IP) Holdings, Inc. v. Apple Inc. et. al.
On March 18, 2011, Imperium (IP) Holdings filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas accusing seven companies of infringing five of its patents. Imperium claims that LG, Kyocera, Nokia, Motorola Mobility, Apple, Sony and RIM have all committed infringement by manufacturing, selling or importing cell phones. The asserted patents all relate to image sensors and, in particular, photodiodes. Each of the five patents came to ESS Technology, Inc. as part of its 2003 acquisition of Pictos Technologies, Inc. from Conexant Systems, Inc. In June of 2008, ESS announced that it had “merged with a wholly owned subsidiary of the Imperium Master Fund, Ltd., a fund managed by Imperium Partners Group, LLC.” One month later the USPTO recorded a transfer of 79 patents from ESS to Imperium (IP) Holdings.
Using the M·CAM DOORS™ analytic platform, an intellectual property analysis of Imperium (IP) Holdings’ U.S. Patent No. 7,109,535 (hereafter ‘535) was conducted in order to understand its strength and defensibility in the face of prior and concurrent art innovation. The innovation space surrounding the ‘535 patent and its patent family members was examined to determine which patent(s) may provide alternatives to or alter the value of Imperium (IP) Holdings’ properties.
M·CAM’s intellectual property analysis has identified examples of uncited precedent innovation that may limit the strength and defensibility of Imperium (IP) Holdings’ U.S. Pat No. 6,891,551. U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,143,612 and 5,614,744 particularly describe innovation which may predate key aspects of the technology described in Imperium (IP) Holdings’ ‘535 patent. These patents, as well as other properties identified in this report, may potentially weaken the claims of the ‘535 and related patents.
Imperium (IP) is Cayman Islands based holding company with no discernable activities apart from patent reassignment and infringement filings. While they hold nearly 80 patents they do not use them to manifest commerce. In initiating its case against Apple et al. with acquired properties in the Eastern District of Texas, the company’s clear goal is to make a quick buck. Unfortunately, by attempting to exploit the patent system and U.S. courts with unimpressive properties, non-operating Imperium’s only rewards may be the successful reexamination of its patents and the illustrious title of Patent Troll.ShareThis