In June of last year, it was reported that IP Bridge had settled a dispute with Broadcom that began with US patent assertion. It was a major milestone for the Japanese sovereign patent fund, giving it the first public result from an enforcement push that began with a 2015 case against TCL. But the most intriguing titbit from the announcement was the revelation that the settlement with Broadcom would end not just a case in Texas’ Eastern District, but also litigation in China.
A couple of factors made it seem that the China case against Broadcom – which was filed in the Beijing IP Court – was the one that played a decisive role in the settlement. As this blog noted at the time, the patents-in-suit had no fewer than 20 IPRs awaiting institution decisions at the time of the settlement, so the timing of the deal made little sense from a solely US perspective. Furthermore, industry research has characterised Broadcom as one of the US companies with the largest revenue exposure to the China market. According to Beijing IP Court documents, the court accepted the case against Broadcom on March 21st 2017, and on June 30th, IP Bridge had withdrawn it.
Just three days after revealing the Broadcom agreement, IP Bridge for the first time announced a licence deal covering its wireless SEP portfolio. The licencee was identified only as a “multinational company”, but it made two breakthroughs – one for each of its major patent portfolios – in the space of a week.
It seems that that major licencee may well have been Samsung Electronics. And again, an assertion in the Beijing IP Court may have played a key role. According to court records (which can be viewed here, in Chinese), a Japan-based entity called IP Bridge No. 1 LLC filed a patent infringement suit against Samsung’s Tianjin-based subsidiary and an apparent distributor which was accepted by the Beijing IP Court on April 12th, 2017. The suit was withdrawn by the plaintiff on June 30th – the same day the same entity withdrew its case against Broadcom.
The Beijing IP Court accepted the Broadcom suit just two days before it issued the country’s first-ever SEP injunction against Sony on March 23rd 2017. That would have been a powerful reminder of what was at stake to all parties involved.
Searches don’t turn up any further activity in Chinese courts by the Japanese fund. It has, however secured one more major SEP licence since then. IP Bridge is not a company that wants to be a high-volume plaintiff anywhere in the world. But its ahead-of-the-curve actions in China may well have made it easier for the firm to secure licences without litigation going forward.
IP Bridge – litigation activity to date
Note: PTAB records also indicate a likely settlement with ARM in 2017