Power

Jawbone’s undead corpse sues Samsung

Jawbone's patents seem to have found their way to an investor who previously sued Uber, Lyft and Groupon.

A blue Samsung logo sign

The lawsuit centers on two patents granted to Jawbone in 2011 and 2012.

Photo: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Audio and wearables startup Jawbone is getting a second act of sorts: Jawbone Innovations, a company that appears to have recently gotten its hands on the majority of Jawbone's original IP, filed a lawsuit against Samsung in Texas last week. In its lawsuit, the company alleges that Samsung violates two of Jawbone's patents related to microphone noise reduction. Public documents suggest the involvement of a frequent filer of patent infringement lawsuits.

The lawsuit centers on two patents granted to Jawbone in 2011 and 2012. It alleges that a wide range of Samsung products, including the company's Galaxy Buds Pro earbuds as well as most of its mobile phones, are in violation of the two patents; Jawbone Innovations has asked the court for a preliminary injunction to halt the sale of these products, as well as monetary relief.

Jawbone Innovations is not to be confused with the original Jawbone, which went out of business in 2017. At that point, its assets found its way to Aliph Brands, a company that also manages the assets of brands like Quirky and drone maker Seon. Aliph is backed by Lionel Capital, a New York-based private equity company.

Filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office suggest a flurry of activity right before the lawsuit against Samsung was filed: Lionel Capital Managing Partner Daniel Setton transferred a number of Jawbone patents to a new Texas-based entity called JI Audio Holdings in mid-May. On the same day, Setton and JI Audio Holdings transferred the patents to Jawbone Innovations, which is also based in Texas.

Jawbone Innovations is managed by York Eggleston, according to Bizapedia. Eggleston's Kroy IP Holdings previously filed patent infringement lawsuits against Groupon, Safeway, Starbucks and a number of retailers for their customer loyalty programs. Eggleston reportedly also sued Uber and Lyft last year over alleged infringement of patents previously owned by IBM.

However, even with a paper trail pointing in his direction, Eggleston's role in the proceedings is still uncertain. Patent infringement lawsuits frequently involve complex corporate and financial arrangements; one of Eggleston's own companies, IP Commercialization Labs, previously advertised "indirect licensing" of patent rights as one of its monetization strategies.

"The inventor/owner transfers the patents to a third party, typically an NPE [non-practicing entity, a company that doesn't make its own products and only monetizes IP rights], which will focus on and manage the monetization campaign. IPCL will manage the transfer to the third party, and will continue to manage the monetization process," the company explained on a since-defunct website. "One advantage to clients is that indirect licensing can yield upfront cash payments in addition to percentage participation in gross recoveries or ownership in the venture."

Eggleston, Setton and Samsung did not respond to requests for comment.

Entertainment

Watch 'Stranger Things,' play Neon White and more weekend recs

Don’t know what to do this weekend? We’ve got you covered.

Here are our picks for your long weekend.

Image: Annapurna Interactive; Wizard of the Coast; Netflix

Kick off your long weekend with an extra-long two-part “Stranger Things” finale; a deep dive into the deckbuilding games like Magic: The Gathering; and Neon White, which mashes up several genres, including a dating sim.

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Nick Statt

Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at nstatt@protocol.com.

Every day, millions of us press the “order” button on our favorite coffee store's mobile application: Our chosen brew will be on the counter when we arrive. It’s a personalized, seamless experience that we have all come to expect. What we don’t know is what’s happening behind the scenes. The mobile application is sourcing data from a database that stores information about each customer and what their favorite coffee drinks are. It is also leveraging event-streaming data in real time to ensure the ingredients for your personal coffee are in supply at your local store.

Applications like this power our daily lives, and if they can’t access massive amounts of data stored in a database as well as stream data “in motion” instantaneously, you — and millions of customers — won’t have these in-the-moment experiences.

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Jennifer Goforth Gregory
Jennifer Goforth Gregory has worked in the B2B technology industry for over 20 years. As a freelance writer she writes for top technology brands, including IBM, HPE, Adobe, AT&T, Verizon, Epson, Oracle, Intel and Square. She specializes in a wide range of technology, such as AI, IoT, cloud, cybersecurity, and CX. Jennifer also wrote a bestselling book The Freelance Content Marketing Writer to help other writers launch a high earning freelance business.
Fintech

Debt fueled crypto mining’s boom — and now, its bust

Leverage helped mining operations expand as they borrowed against their hardware or the crypto it generated.

Dropping crypto prices have upended the economics of mining.

Photo: Lars Hagberg/AFP via Getty Images

As bitcoin boomed, crypto mining seemed almost like printing money. But in reality, miners have always had to juggle the cost of hardware, electricity and operations against the tokens their work yielded. Often miners held onto their crypto, betting it would appreciate, or borrowed against it to buy more mining rigs. Now all those bills are coming due: The industry has accumulated as much as $4 billion in debt, according to some estimates.

The crypto boom encouraged excess. “The approach was get rich quick, build it big, build it fast, use leverage. Do it now,” said Andrew Webber, founder and CEO at crypto mining service provider Digital Power Optimization.

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Tomio Geron

Tomio Geron ( @tomiogeron) is a San Francisco-based reporter covering fintech. He was previously a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, covering venture capital and startups. Before that, he worked as a staff writer at Forbes, covering social media and venture capital, and also edited the Midas List of top tech investors. He has also worked at newspapers covering crime, courts, health and other topics. He can be reached at tgeron@protocol.com or tgeron@protonmail.com.

Policy

How lax social media policies help fuel a prescription drug boom

Prescription drug ads are all over TikTok, Facebook and Instagram. As the potential harms become clear, why haven’t the companies updated their advertising policies?

Even as providers like Cerebral draw federal attention, Meta’s and TikTok’s advertising policies still allow telehealth providers to turbocharge their marketing efforts.

Illustration: Overearth/iStock/Getty Images Plus

In the United States, prescription drug advertisements are as commonplace as drive-thru lanes and Pete Davidson relationship updates. We’re told every day — often multiple times a day — to ask our doctor if some new medication is right for us. Saturday Night Live has for decades parodied the breathless parade of side effect warnings tacked onto drug commercials. Here in New York, even our subway swipes are subsidized by advertisements that deliver the good news: We can last longer in bed and keep our hair, if only we turn to the latest VC-backed telehealth service.

The U.S. is almost alone in embracing direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertisements. Nations as disparate as Saudi Arabia, France and China all find common ground in banning such ads. In fact, of all developed nations, only New Zealand joins the U.S. in giving pharmaceutical companies a direct line to consumers.

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Hirsh Chitkara

Hirsh Chitkara ( @HirshChitkara) is a reporter at Protocol focused on the intersection of politics, technology and society. Before joining Protocol, he helped write a daily newsletter at Insider that covered all things Big Tech. He's based in New York and can be reached at hchitkara@protocol.com.

Entertainment

Niantic’s future hinges on mapping the metaverse

The maker of Pokémon Go is hoping the metaverse will deliver its next big break.

Niantic's new standalone messaging and social app, Campfire, is a way to get players organizing and meeting up in the real world. It launches today for select Pokémon Go players.

Image: Niantic

Pokémon Go sent Niantic to the moon. But now the San Francisco-based augmented reality developer has returned to earth, and it’s been trying to chart its way back to the stars ever since. The company yesterday announced layoffs of about 8% of its workforce (about 85 to 90 people) and canceled four projects, Bloomberg reported, signaling another disappointment for the studio that still generates about $1 billion in revenue per year from Pokémon Go.

Finding its next big hit has been Niantic’s priority for years, and the company has been coming up short. For much of the past year or so, Niantic has turned its attention to the metaverse, with hopes that its location-based mobile games, AR tech and company philosophy around fostering physical connection and outdoor exploration can help it build what it now calls the “real world metaverse.”

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Nick Statt

Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at nstatt@protocol.com.

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