Lawfare: Financial Hijinks - United Messaging Solutions v The Bank of New York Mellon
On May 7th 2012 Unified Messaging Solutions LLC (UMS), a subsidiary of Acacia Research Group LLC, yelled “Pay me!” to the financial services industry. It claimed infringement of UMS-licensed patents on web-based messaging services by The Bank of New York Mellon, Morgan Stanley, American Express Company, and the Vanguard Group. As UMS is the exclusive licensee of the asserted patents, it is interesting to trace the tangled skein of ownership of the asserted intellectual properties. Has UMS simply been given a license to litigate?
When does a company become a troll?
Are some companies born trolls or do they have troll-ness thrust upon them? Take for instance J2 Global Inc. Founded in 1995, J2 touts itself as “a provider of cloud-based, business-critical communications and storage messaging services. ” It reported earnings of $114 million in 2011 and had a market cap of $1.13 billion as of May 14, 2012. It also seeks to be a leading provider of cloud-based communications, or at least aspires to collect a toll on as many cloud applications as possible.
Why are we concerned with the apparent troll-ality of this corporation?
J2 is domiciled at the same address as its sidekick Advanced Messaging Technologies Inc (AMT). AMT is not listed as a subsidiary of J2 or mentioned at all in its SEC filings; however, the entities frequently swap IP and are co-plaintiffs on five infringement cases. Indeed AMT seems to exist primarily to access the court system via J2’s place of business in Los Angeles, CA. AMT is the current assignee of the five patents asserted by UMS against Bank of New York Mellon Corporation and the other financial entities named above. The individual cases filed against The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, Morgan Stanley, American Express Company, and the Vanguard Group are essentially identical and assert the same five patents.ShareThis