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.

SKOREA-ENTERTAINMENT-GAMING-MICROSOFT-XBOX
A visitor plays a game using Microsoft's Xbox controller at a flagship store of SK Telecom in Seoul on November 10, 2020. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP) (Photo by JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

On this episode of the Source Code podcast: Nick Statt joins the show to discuss Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, and what it means for the tech and game industries. Then, Issie Lapowsky talks about a big week in antitrust reform, and whether real progress is being made in the U.S. Finally, Hirsh Chitkara explains why AT&T, Verizon, the FAA and airlines have been fighting for months about 5G coverage.

For more on the topics in this episode:

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editorial director. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

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Policy

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Photo: Photo by Elizabeth Frantz-Pool/Getty Images

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Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

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Photo: Arturo Olmos for Protocol

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David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editorial director. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

Workplace

Ask a tech worker: How many of your colleagues have caught omicron?

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Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

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