Cameras, imaging technology, and displays head up this month’s Photonics IP Update

July 2, 2024
This roundup summarizes photonics-related patent litigation and Patent Office procedures for June.

June’s photonics-related IP activities include 35 cases concerning various technologies, including cameras and imaging systems, displays, bio & life sciences, lighting and light sources, robotic vision, and solar cells. Here are the summaries.

Cameras, imaging systems, and image processing

On June 3rd, C47 Technologies LLC filed a lawsuit against Lenovo Group Ltd., Lenovo (United States) Inc., and Motorola Mobility LLC in the Eastern District of Texas for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 10,984,605. The ‘605 patent describes a camara system that merges data from two cameras to form a virtual image from a point that is different from the positions of the two cameras. C47 Technologies also sued TCL Communication Technology Holdings Limited and other TCL entities in the Eastern District of Texas for infringement of the same patent on June 4th.

VusionGroup SA requested that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), an arm of the U.S. Patent Office, review the validity of U.S. Patent No. 10,701,321, owned by Hanshow Technology Co., Ltd. The ‘321 patent describes a system and method for distributed video analysis. The PTAB will decide whether to institute an IPR on the ‘321 patent by early December 2024.

VDPP, LLC continued to assert its image-processing patent portfolio on June 4th, this time suing Digital Projection International in the Northern District of Georgia. The lawsuit accused Digital Projection of infringing U.S. Patent Nos. 9,948,922, 10,021,380, and  10,951,881. VDPP also sued Skyworth USA Corporation, Sceptre, Inc., Kaltec Ekectronics, Inc., d/b/a/ Digital Watchdog, Advanced Technology Video, Inc., and SunBrite TV, LLC in separate lawsuits for infringement of the ‘380 patent. VDPP has now asserted the ‘922 patent against 32 parties, the ‘380 patent against 30 parties, and the ‘881 patent against nine parties.

On June 11th, AI-Core Technologies, LLC sued Keyence Corporation of America in the Eastern District of Texas for infringement of seven patents relating to vision systems and autofocus code readers. The patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,215,834; 7,365,298; 7,623,036; 7,746,516; 8,130,241; 8,610,742; and 9,338,217.

FaceTec, Inc. sued Jumio Corporation in the Northern District of California on June 14th for infringement of four patents relating to facial recognition and authentication systems using facial recognition. The patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 10,776,471; 11,157,606; 11,693,938; and 11,874,910.

In separate lawsuits, Pointwise Ventures LLC sued Walmart, Inc., Meta Platforms, Inc.  f/k/a/ Facebook Inc., and Salesforce, Inc. on June 14th for infringing its U.S. Patent No. 8,471,812. Pointwise also sued eBay, Inc., Pinterest, Inc., and Snap One Holdings Corp. on June 17th for infringement of the same patent. The ‘812 patent covers a device that allows the user to point to a real-world object or an object on a television or movie screen and then an image of the object is taken by a digital camera and transmitted to a computer. Pointwise Adventures has now sued 17 different parties for infringement of the ‘812 patent.

Patent Armory asserted its U.S. Patent No. 7,256,899 against Vatech North America on June 17th, in the District of New Jersey. The ‘899 patent covers a method of acquiring an approximation of the surface geometry of an object by projecting a pattern of structured light onto the object and forming an image of the intersection of the object and the structured light. Patent Armory has now asserted the ‘899 patent against 18 different defendants.

On June 20th, Google LLC filed petitions at the PTAB to institute Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs) reviewing the validity of six patents owned by 138 East LCD Advancements Limited. The patents, U.S. Patent Nos. 7,454,056; 7,486,807; 7,428,082; 7,668,365; 7,945,109; and 8,482,638, relate to the generation and analysis of images captured by digital cameras. These patents were included in a patent infringement lawsuit filed by Longitude Licensing Limited, 138 East LCD’s licensee, against Google in June 2023.  The PTAB will decide whether to institute the IPRs before December 21, 2024.

On June 20th, Arashi Vision Inc. USA d/b/a Insta360 filed petitions at the PTAB to institute IPRs reviewing the validity of two patents owned by GoPro, Inc. The patents, U.S. Patent Nos. 10,015,413 and 11,336,832, relate to the conversion of aspect ratios in digital cameras and methods for horizon leveling. These two patents were included in a patent infringement lawsuit filed by GoPro against Arashi Vision in March 2024. The PTAB will decide whether to institute the IPRs by December 20, 2024.

Displays

On June 4th, BOE Technology Group Co., Ltd. petitioned the PTAB to institute an IPR of U.S. Patent No. 7,502,079, owned by 138 East LCD Advancements Limited. BOE Technology Group filed a petition against U.S. Patent No. 9,184,157 on June 5th, and a petition against U.S. Patent No. 9,557,606 on June 6th. The ‘079 and ‘157 patents cover thin film transistor circuitry for controlling an LCD panel and the ‘606 patent addresses configurations for manufacturing the LCD panel. The three patents are the subject of a patent infringement lawsuit brought against BOE Technology Group last year in the Eastern District of Texas by Longitude Licensing Ltd.

The PTAB issued a Written Opinion judging that the claims of U.S. Patent No. 10,681,109, owned by Intellectual Pixels Limited, were unpatentable. This decision was arrived at via a rather tortuous route. Intellectual Pixels originally filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC for infringement of the ‘109 patent in July 2020. Sony filed for the IPR in December 2020 and the PTAB originally found that the ‘109 was patentable, stating that prior art cited by Sony did not show every step of the claimed invention. Sony appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), the appeals court with jurisdiction over patent cases. The CAFC overturned the PTAB’s decision on the basis that they had misinterpreted one of the prior art references, and remanded the case to the PTAB for further decision. Following additional briefing from both parties, the PTAB issued a second Written Opinion on June 5th finding that, using the CAFC’s interpretation of the prior art, the claims of the ‘109 patent were invalid.

On June 18th, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) decided to review the Initial Determination we reported last month, in a case that found Manufacturing Resources International, Inc. infringes an LCD display patent owned by Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. The infringed patent, U.S. Patent No. RE45,117, relates to environmentally protected LCD displays that include cooling mechanisms.

Apple, Inc. filed petitions for IPRs at the PTAB to review the validity of U.S. Patent Nos. 10,642,413; 10,649,578; 10,649,580; 10,656,754; 10,656,755; 10,656,758; 10,671,212; 10,725,581; and 10,936,114. The patents relate to a gesture-equipped touch screen system and a method of operating such a screen, to graphical user interfaces for manipulating interface objects with visual or haptic feedback, and to methods for navigating between user interfaces. Smith Interface Technologies, LLC, owner of the patents, sued Apple for infringement of the patents in June 2023. The PTAB will decide whether to institute the IPRs by the end of December 2024.

On June 28th, Samsung Display Co., Ltd. filed a petition for an IPR with the PTAB to invalidate U.S. Patent No. 8,723,164, owned by Pictiva Displays International Limited. The ‘164 patent describes an OLED device with an allegedly improved radiation efficiency. Pictiva sued Samsung for infringement of the ‘164 patent, amongst others, in October 2023. The PTAB will decide whether to institute the IPR by the end of December 2024.

Bio & life sciences

On June 5th, the PTAB found that the claims of U.S. Patent No. 10,675,481, owned by Nikolai Tankovich, are valid. Tankovich had sued Candela Corporation for infringement of the ‘481 patent in the District of Delaware in November 2022, and Candela filed a petition for the IPR later that month. The district court litigation was stayed pending the outcome of the IPR. The ‘481 patent covers a laser system for tissue treatment applications. The laser system includes a handpiece that can deliver laser pulses having different wavelengths that temporally overlap and which partially overlap spatially. Following this IPR decision, it is expected that the Delaware litigation will soon resume.

On June 21st, The CAFC partially afformed an IPR decision by the PTAB that claims of U.S. Patent No. 10,517,484, owned by Omni Medsci Inc., are invalid. The ‘484 patent relates to improved signal-to-noise in physiological measurements made by LED. Omni Medsci had sued Apple Inc. for infringement of the ‘676 patent in January 2020, and Apple responded with a petition to the PTAB for an IPR in January 2021. The PTAB found that certain claims were invalid, but that there was insufficient evidence to invalidate other claims. Apple appealed the PTAB’s finding that certain claims were valid to the CAFC. The CAFC vacated the Board’s decision to find the claims valid because the Board abused its discretion by using different claim constructions during the IPR process without giving Apple an equitable opportunity to argue against the constructions. Thus, the case goes back to the PTAB for the parties to re-argue the validity of the claims that the Board found to be valid.

On June 25th, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Inc. sued Biofrontera AG and three other Biofrontera entities in the District of Massachusetts for infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 11,446,512 and 11,697,028. The patents cover an adjustable illuminator for photodynamic therapy based on the use of LED-powered lighting panels. Sun Pharmaceutical followed up with an ITC action against Biofrontera on June 26th, based on the same patents.

On June 27th, the PTAB agreed with Apple Inc.’s request to institute IPRs reviewing the validity of U.S. Patent Nos. 8,190,223 and 10,736,507 owned by Masimo Corporation, and U.S. Patent No. 10,984,911, owned by Cercacor Laboratories, Inc. The patents are involved in Masimo’s ongoing dispute with Apple regarding Apple Watches’ ability to optically measure physiological parameters. Final decisions in the IPRs are expected by the end of June 2025. The PTAB denied Apple’s petition for a second IPR on U.S. Patent No. 10,736,507.

Lighting and light sources

On June 10th, Allsop, Inc. sued QVC, Inc. in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for infringement of three patents relating to a solar-powered, collapsible lighting apparatus. The patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,513,638; 8,192,044; and 8,657,461.

On June 26th, Dongguan Ingleby Mechanical Equipment Co., Ltd. filed a declaratory judgment action against Aaron Chien and others in the Central District of California. The complaint requested the court to find claims of U.S. Patent No. 9,719,654 invalid. The ‘654 patent describes a LED/laser projector for projecting a fixed image on, for example, a wall or ceiling.

On June 29th, Jiangmen Pengjiang Tianli New Tech Co. Ltd. filed suit in the Northern District of Illinois against unknown defendants for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 10,863,608. The patent describes a system used for driving a string of LEDs.

Robotic vision

On June 20th, VusionGroup SA filed a petition at the PTAB for an IPR to review the validity of U.S. Patent No. 11,087,272, owned by Hanshow Technology Co., Ltd. The ‘272 patent describes a robotic vision system that can be used for counting retail or warehouse product inventory. The PTAB will decide whether to institute the IPR by the end of December 2024.

Solar cells

Canadian Solar Inc. petitioned the PTAB on June 25th to institute an IPR to review the validity of U.S. Patent No. 11,251,315, owned by Maxeon Solar Pte. Ltd. The ‘315 patent describes solar cells with improved lifetime, passivation, and/or efficiency. The PTAB is expected to make a decision on instituting the IPR before the end of December 2024.

This article is the author’s opinion, not that of Laser Focus World or Carlson Caspers. The information presented here should not be relied upon as legal advice.

About the Author

Iain McIntyre

Iain A. McIntyre, J.D., Ph.D., is a partner at the Minneapolis law firm Carlson Caspers. He gained his doctorate in laser physics from The University of St. Andrews in Scotland. After working as a professional physicist in lasers and electro-optics for 10 years, he switched careers and has worked in patent law for over 25 years. He is experienced in patent prosecution, litigation, counseling, FTO, and due diligence analyses.

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