Fidelity is the latest target of Sound View Innovations, an intellectual property licensing company, for its use of several open source software components in Fidelity’s systems and platforms. Sound View filed its lawsuit against Fidelity in the District Court of Delaware on October 03, 2017, alleging infringement of five patents, all based in the data management and analysis space.
Interestingly, all five patents asserted by Sound View were originally filed and owned by AT&T Bell Labs or Lucent Technologies. Sound View acquired these patents from Alcatel Lucent in December 2013, the same year that Sound View was founded. Since 2013, Sound View has acquired over 1000 patents, more than 500 of which are active U.S. patents. It is ironic to see the patents of AT&T Bell Labs and Lucent, among the most respected research institutions of the 20th Century, now owned and asserted by a Patent Troll.
Fidelity is not the first or the only company that Sound View has sued based on open source software usage. Among the previous Sound View targets are Hulu, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Sound View filed its first lawsuit against Facebook in February 2016. Twitter and LinkedIn settled their lawsuits within a few months of filing; the rest are still in the early stages of litigation.
What is perhaps more noteworthy is that Unified Patents has filed a Petition for Inter Partes Review (IPR) against Sound View with the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) on October 20, 2017. The patent challenged in Unified’s IPR Petition is U.S. Patent No. 6,125,371, one of the five patents asserted by Sound View against Fidelity. Unified Patents is a member-based organization known for its goal in deterring NPE assertions by challenging bad patents and filing IPRs against patents owned by NPEs. Unified assesses the risks posed by NPEs in various technology zones, including cloud storage, content delivery, electronic payments, etc. It then targets NPE owned patents with IPRs. As such, Unified’s IPR against Sound View is an indicator of the potential risk the Sound View patents pose to open source software technology.
At this time, the Sound View lawsuits and the IPR are in their early stages, but undoubtedly, there is more to come. We will continue to track these cases and report on any key developments, particularly since open source software utilized in cloud computing technology is under attack.
Contributing Author: Bart Eppenauer