Japanese patent fund IP Bridge launched its fifth US patent assertion on Friday, filing a case against Intel in the Eastern District of Texas. Coming off of two recent settlements in the semiconductor space, this latest assertion shows that the Tokyo-based NPE is continuing to bet on US enforcement even at a tough time for plaintiffs. Separately, IP Bridge announced a new SEP licence agreement with a “major multinational”.

There are 9 patents involved in the case against Intel:

  • 6,197,696 - Method for forming interconnection structure
  • 6,346,736 - Trench isolated semiconductor device
  • 6,387,824 - Method for forming porous forming film wiring structure
  • 6,602,802 - Method of forming a porous film on a substrate
  • 6,709,950 - Semiconductor device and method of manufacturing the same
  • 6,967,409 - Semiconductor device and method of manufacturing the same
  • 7,800,165 - Semiconductor device and method for producing the same
  • RE41,980 - Semiconductor interconnect formed over an insulation and having moisture resistant material

Two of these patents have been through the ringer at the PTAB, where IP Bridge has had a heavy caseload due to a very large number of IPR challenges filed by major chipmakers. The ‘696 patent has been the subject of 12 separate IPRs, 8 of which have been instituted. The ‘980 patent has emerged unscathed after having four IPRs denied institution.

But despite the gauntlet of IPRs, IP Bridge has managed to secure a couple of settlements over the past four months that are very important validation for the company as it seeks to show that there is a place for patent monetisation entities in Japan’s relatively conservative IP business environment. In June, this blog reported the fund’s settlements with Broadcom and ARM – the latter of which did not stem from an infringement litigation. The company has around 700 semiconductor patents, and this Intel case suggests it will attempt to build on its deals with Broadcom and ARM to license the biggest players in the sector.

IP Bridge’s other major portfolio consists of about 800 wireless SEPs. In June, it announced a licence to this portfolio for the first time, saying only that it was to a large US corporate. On Friday, the company again announced a new licensee, which it says is a global consumer electronics company that implements wireless standards in smartphones. The team at IP Bridge will be pleased to have generated what seems like momentum, and evidently without resorting to SEP litigation.

Issue 86 of IAM will be hitting desks very shortly, and there subscribers will be able to read parts of a conversation I had recently with IP Bridge CEO Shigeharu Yoshii. He discusses the company’s litigation strategy and states that despite high costs and IPR risks, its US patent portfolio is too valuable to ignore enforcement opportunities there.

But Yoshii also made clear that IP Bridge will litigate wherever it has a convincing case. Its suit against Broadcom in China, for example, seems to have played a role in getting a settlement. Does IP Bridge have the assets to pursue a similar strategy in its latest assertion? That’s a question that Intel IP executives are probably thinking about right now.