Don’t Feed the Trolls!

Jun 22 2017 By Paul Smith

Troll (from 1911)

LMI Technologies Inc. (a SMITHS IP client) recently struck a blow to a patent troll, in the guise of Sungkyunkwan University Research and Business Foundation, based in Korea. SKK sued LMI along with a number of other manufacturers of 3D imaging scanners in the Northern District of California and in the Eastern District of Texas. That shotgun approach to litigation along with the fact that LMI’s systems did not even infringe SKK’s US Patent No. 7,957,639 suggest that this was troll-like activity.

Only claim 1 of the ‘639 patent was asserted against LMI. The claim was directed to using both an image captured using a pattern projected onto the target and an image captured without a pattern projection in order to automatically determine an optimal exposure. The claim did not specify how that was done, although the other claims of the patent drilled down into the techniques involved.

On a motion for summary judgment, Justice Chhabria found the claim invalid for lack of patent-eligible subject matter. The claim identified the context and the end goal, but failed to recite the means of achieving that goal. As such the claim was directed to an abstraction. The action was therefore dismissed. LMI is presently prosecuting a motion to have the case declared exceptional and for attorneys’ fees on the basis of SKK’s absence of reasonable grounds to bring the action, both in relation to the non-infringement of the LMI systems and the invalidity of the asserted claim. Don’t feed the trolls!