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Patent Troll Goes After Red Light Camera Company
Webcam patent holder goes after American Traffic Solutions for patent infringement for streaming video.

Joao vs. ATS
The country's largest photo enforcement company is being sued for patent infringement. American Traffic Solutions (ATS) was served earlier this month by Joao Control and Monitoring Systems LLC, a company that has no customers and offers no products other than lawsuits. On Wednesday, the case was assigned to Judge Christopher J. Burke in the US District Court for the District of Delaware.

ATS may have come to the attention of Joao after the Arizona-based firm filed a patent lawsuit against a competing photo ticketing firm, B and W Sensors. Joao owns US patent number 6,587,046 and 7,277,010, which were granted in 2003 and 2007. These patents describe a system to remotely monitor a car or home security system over the Internet.

"Upon information and belief, defendant has intentionally... caused its customers to use the accused systems to monitor video obtained by one or more video cameras and/or video recording devices located at a premises or vehicle, said accused systems having been provided by defendant to its customers," Joao attorney Stamatios Stamoulis wrote in the complaint.

ATS spokesman Charles Territo blasted the lawsuit in a prepared statement provided to TheNewspaper.

"Non-practicing entities or NPE's like Joao have been rebuffed by the courts time and time again in their attempts to make outlandish patent claims," Territo said. "We have every expectation that the outcome of this attempt at patent trolling will be no different. As the founder of photo enforcement in North America, ATS holds several dozen patents, the notion that we infringed on anything patented by Joao Control is beyond absurd."

ATS is in good company, as Joao has also sued a number of automakers and streaming media companies in the past two years, including: Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Playboy Enterprises, the city of Yonkers, Sling Media, Digital Playground Inc, Smartvue Corporation, Liquid Cash, Xanboo, ACTI Corporation, Ahava, GSMC, Game Link and Webcamnow.

Joao's patent claim dates to 1996, but software engineer Jacques Mattheij offered a webcam system with streaming access in 1995. Mattheij condemned Joao in an open letter published last September.

"I've never harped on public recognition for coming up with a way to stream live video to the browser (as far as I know it's not mentioned in places like wikipedia) because as far as I'm concerned it was a rather trivial affair software wise," Mattheij wrote. "Some of the stuff I have built was several orders of magnitude more work and vastly more complex than this. To register a patent for something like that to me is abuse of the patent system."

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