Google must face Uniloc patent lawsuits again

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  • Uniloc sued Google for infringing IT, network, video patents
  • Federal Circuit said Uniloc had standing to sue

(Reuters) – Google LLC’s win against 11 lawsuits brought by Uniloc 2017 LLC, a company that acquires third-party patents to monetize them, was reversed by a U.S. appeals court Friday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said Uniloc’s patent-licensing clause in a contract with a unit at affiliate Fortress Investment Group unit did not eliminate its standing to bring the 11 cases against Google, reviving the lawsuits in the Northern District of California.

“The term ‘irrevocable’ does not suggest that the license could not be eliminated by mutual agreement,” the appeals court said.

A Google spokesperson said the company was disappointed with the decision and has “called for reforms to the patent system that would reduce abusive lawsuits like these that waste resources for courts and harm innovative work.”

Representatives for Uniloc and Fortress did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Uniloc filed the lawsuits in 2018, accusing Google products of infringing patents related to a wide range of technology including content delivery, information security, network connectivity and video conferencing.

Under a revenue-sharing agreement related to a loan Fortress made to its affiliate, Uniloc, Fortress would receive a license to Uniloc patents if Uniloc failed to reach a revenue target of $20 million from monetizing the patents. Uniloc later paid off the loan, and the companies agreed to end the agreement in 2018 before the lawsuits against Google were filed.

Google argued Uniloc did not reach the revenue target, which gave Fortress rights to the patents and that negated Uniloc’s standing to sue Google. The California court ruled for Google and found the license survived the end of the agreement because its terms said it was “irrevocable.”

The Federal Circuit reversed the district court decision and revived the lawsuits on Friday. Uniloc had standing because the end of the agreement also ended Fortress’s license, a three-judge panel decided.

The Federal Circuit separately ruled Friday that Uniloc could not revive lawsuits against Motorola Mobility LLC and Blackboard Inc that had been filed before the agreement was terminated.

The Google case is Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Google LLC, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, No. 21-1498.

For Uniloc: Jeff Lamken of MoloLamken

For Google: Dan Bagatell of Perkins Coie

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Blake Brittain

Thomson Reuters

Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at

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