Texas judge dismisses patent infringement claims by ‘serial litigant’ over watermarking technology

by Meagan Martin

A Texas district court judge has tossed a $210 million lawsuit filed against Frontier Communications Corp. accusing the company of patent infringement. Frontier alleged that the company that filed the lawsuit, Blue Spike, was a “serial litigant” whose allegations amounted to little more than 140 pages of boilerplate accusations.

Blue Spike filed a lawsuit in May 2018 against Frontier accusing the company of violating its intellectual property rights. The lawsuit alleges that Frontier’s FiOS TV service had infringed on 11 patents held by Blue Spike related to watermark-embedding technology.

In September 2018, Frontier filed a motion asking Judge Robert Schroeder III of the Eastern District of Texas to dismiss Blue Spike’s lawsuit. Frontier argued that because it was a holding company that did not “own, operate, sell or offer for sale” any products that utilized the allegedly infringing technologies, it was the wrong entity against whom for Blue Spike to file a lawsuit. Frontier alleged that when it informed Blue Spike that it was suing the wrong entity, the company refused to substitute the correct entity in its suit.

Furthermore, Frontier argued in its motion, the patent infringement claim filed by Blue Spike contained boilerplate allegations against a competitor that had simply been copied and pasted from a previous lawsuit. Frontier argued that these boilerplate allegations underscored the predatory nature of Blue Spike’s action and the company’s lack of due diligence in filing the claim.

That same month, Frontier and Blue Spike filed a joint stipulation asking Judge Schroeder to drop the case. Judge Schroeder agreed, dismissing the infringement claim against Frontier with prejudice and ordering that “attorneys’ fees and costs are to be borne by the party that incurred them.” Judge Schroeder gave Frontier clearance to seek attorneys’ fees or sanctions against counsel for Blue Spike if it so desired, and also granted Blue Spike permission to file similar claims against companies besides Frontier, including those indirectly linked to that company.

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