10/6/2016Red Light Camera Company Beats Patent Troll
Federal judge sides with American Traffic Solutions in denying the claim of a notorious patent troll.
A federal judge slammed the door on a notorious patent troll on Friday. Joao Control and Monitoring Systems LLC, a firm with no customers or products, in 2013 filed a patent infringement suit against the photo enforcement system run by American Traffic Solutions (ATS). Joao claimed the patent it held for video security webcams required any company that monitored a video feed over the Internet to pay royalties.
"ATS refused to allow our company or our customer to be held hostage by a baseless lawsuit," company spokesman Charles Territo said in a statement. "We're pleased with the outcome and hope it sends a message to others who attempt to take credit for someone else's hard work."
US District Court Judge Richard J. Sullivan was never persuaded that Joao's patents, numbered 6,587,046 and 7,277,010, applied to ATS or its co-defendant, the city of Yonkers, New York. Joao has filed identical suits against over forty other major companies, which often have found it cheaper to settle out of court than go through the expense of a full legal battle. Playboy Enterprises, for example, settled with Joao for an undisclosed amount in 2010 rather than defend its racy web videos as non-infringing. According to an ATS spokesman, the court has yet to decide whether Joao will be handed the full bill for the litigation, or whether Yonkers and ATS will have to pay their own costs.
ATS had argued that Joao's patents were invalid because they covered an "abstract idea," rather than an actual invention, and enforcing a patent for generic concepts would allow an individual to hold monopoly power across multiple industries. The judge agreed that there was nothing "inventive" about the patents.
"The patents are clearly directed to the idea of remote surveillance, or the monitoring of property for the purpose of securing or controlling it by electronically transmitting data about it," Judge Sullivan ruled. "A number of courts have found this idea to be abstract under the principles outlined above... Put simply, the court can discern nothing 'new and useful' in plaintiff's claims, viewed individually or as an ordered combination."
With that, the judge threw out the suit in its entirety. A copy of the ruling is available in a 4mb PDF file at the source link below.