The three biggest patent trolls of this year will all soon face new legal challenges to their most valuable ”inventions.”
Unified Patents, a company that focuses on invalidating patents through the use of the inter partes review (IPR) process, has filed challenges against patents belonging to the three most litigious “non-practicing entities” of 2016. In late June, the company challenged Uniloc’s patent on DRM. Last week, it filed papers against a company called Sportbrain Holdings, which makes wide patent claims over fitness tracking devices. On Monday, Unified challenged Shipping & Transit LLC, formerly known as ArrivalStar, a company that has demanded payments from hundreds of small companies—and even city transit systems—for using GPS vehicle tracking or sending package tracking numbers in e-mail.
The IPR process, created in 2012, has proven effective at knocking out patents that the Patent Office says shouldn’t have been issued in the first place. Many private companies have used IPRs, as have third-party organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which challenged the podcasting patent.
Unified Patents works by selling memberships to companies that are frequently subject to patent claims. It then looks for the most problematic patents in certain industry “zones,” like cloud computing, and files IPRs seeking to invalidate those patents.
“Unified’s mission is to disrupt and deter invalid patents used by NPEs from technology sectors we protect,” said Unified CEO Kevin Jakel in an e-mail to Ars. “Top filers demonstrate the worst behavior by often going after small companies who do not have the resources to defend themselves. We hope this sends a message that even if they sue small, defenseless companies, patent trolls will no longer be allowed to profit on invalid patents in the tech sector.”
The three NPEs targeted by Unified Patents …