This is the latest in the series titled “NPE Showcase,” where we discuss high-volume non-practicing entities (or as some call them, “patent trolls”). This installment will focus on a company named Stormborn Technologies, an IP Edge entity.
Many high-volume NPEs are subsidiaries of a larger company that segregates liability by creating separate LLCs for each subset of their patent portfolio. One of the more active “parent companies” is IP Edge, which owns several high-volume patent assertion entities under different company names. The numbers are staggering: IP Edge currently has 245 active lawsuits and 4,179 inactive (settled or dismissed) cases across its 240 known entities. RPX estimates “roughly 70% of IP Edge cases terminate within 180 days of filing, with reported settlement amounts typically an order of magnitude lower than the cost of an inter partes review … suggesting that the NPE has adopted a business model of seeking settlement amounts that make an IPR challenge by defendant-petitioners economically unattractive.” If you’ve been sued for patent infringement, there’s a 25% chance the plaintiff is an IP Edge entity (Id.).
Stormborn Technologies is one such entity. Stormborn owns U.S. Patent No. RE44,199 and alleges it covers the high speed packet access (“HSPA”) wireless standard. HSPA was a part of the 3G mobile broadband standard and is really two separate mobile protocols that extend and improve existing 3G networks. It was, quite frankly, used by everyone who owned a cell phone.
Stormborn has filed 62 total cases, with five of those cases actively being litigated. The patent is expired but Stormborn can still seek damages for the six years prior to expiration due to the statute of limitations for patent claims (35 U.S.C. § 286). Of course, 3G is ancient history at this point so nearly all available damages would be for past use of the standard regardless of the expiration of the patent.
How has Stormborn fared in its patent enforcement efforts? It is impossible to say for sure, but several defendants have pushed back considerably and have seen their cases vanish as a result. Several companies have even issued public press releases boasting of their cases being dismissed by Stormborn after more aggressive action by the defendant. But the cases that settled did so early. This implies that Stormborn is a conventional IP Edge entity—high volume, presumably low settlement amounts, and with lower risk of protracted litigation.