By Erin Geiger Smith
(Reuters) - Target Corp, Netflix Inc and Macy's Inc are
among the latest companies that have been sued for allegedly
infringing a patent related to digital images.
Texas-based Princeton Digital Image Corp has since December
brought about two dozen lawsuits in U.S. District Court in
Delaware against high-profile companies.
In the latest lawsuits, filed Tuesday, Princeton claimed
that one of the ways the companies allegedly infringed its
patent was by encoding image data into JPEG files to produce
product images for display on their retail websites.
Princeton is described on its website as a company that
"acquires and licenses technology and patent rights" from
universities and corporations, among others. It acquired the
patent that is the basis of the lawsuits from General Electric
Co, according to the lawsuits.
Thomas Meagher, president of Princeton, said in a brief
telephone call with Reuters on Wednesday that the technology
behind the patent was invented at RCA Corp and that several
high-profile companies, including Panasonic Corp and Nikon Corp,
previously had licensing agreements relating to it. General
Electric acquired RCA in the 1980s.
Meagher is also a patent litigator with Meagher Emanuel Laks
Goldberg & Bovino in Princeton and also previously worked at
Kenyon & Kenyon and Duane Morris, according to his firm
biography. He is not listed as an attorney of record in the
Delaware firm O'Kelly Ernst & Bielle represents Princeton in
the latest cases.
A representative for Netflix was not immediately available
to comment. Representatives for Macy's and Target declined to
comment on pending litigation.
Microsoft Corp and Apple Inc are defendants in two of the
earlier lawsuits, also filed in Delaware. In January, Apple
denied it was infringing the Princeton patent and filed a
countersuit seeking to invalidate it.
Mary Matterer, Apple's lead attorney at the law firm Morris
James, was not immediately available to comment on Wednesday.
Microsoft attorney Trent Webb of Shook Hardy & Bacon was also
not immediately available.
Separately, Princeton has also filed litigation in U.S.
District Court in Manhattan, including against Facebook Inc,
over the same patent.
In November, Facebook and several co-defendants asked U.S.
District Judge Richard Sullivan to dismiss the lawsuit, but he
has not yet ruled. The companies claimed that Princeton did not
have standing to sue on its own because certain General Electric
entities, which Facebook said retained some rights in the
patent, are not parties to the suit.
Princeton, which is represented by Duane Morris in the New
York case, called that argument "misplaced."
Princeton and the defendants in the Facebook case all agree
that the patent has now expired, though the expiration date is
not clear in the court papers.
Princeton could recover damages on infringement before the
patents' expiration, if it prevails in the case.
Facebook lead counsel, Heidi Keefe of Cooley, was not
immediately available to comment.
The lawsuits filed Tuesday include:
Princeton Digital Image Corp v. Macy's Inc., U.S. District
Court for the District of Delaware, No. 13-00327
Princeton Digital Image Corp v. Netflix, U.S. District Court
for the District of Delaware, No. 13-00328.
Princeton Digital Image Corp v. Target Corporation, U.S.
District Court for the District of Delaware, No. 13-00329.
For Princeton: Seat O'Kelly of O'Kelly Ernst & Bielli.
For defendants: Not immediately available.
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