Jack Ellis

An entity named ‘Game and Technology Co., Ltd’ has launched litigation in the Eastern District of Texas claiming infringement of patents that had been assigned to it from Intellectual Discovery (ID), the firm that manages South Korea’s ‘sovereign patent fund’ (SPF).

The lawsuits – filed on July 9 in Marshall – target a number of companies in the computer gaming sector, including Blizzard Entertainment, Riot Games, Valve and Wargamingnet. The patents in dispute are:

  • US patent 7,682,243 – ‘Method for providing online game which changes pilot data and unit data in gear and system thereof
  • US patent 8,035,649 – ‘Method and system for renewing screen’
  • US patent 8,253,743 – ‘Method and system for providing character having game item functions’    

Each of the patents had previously been owned by ID and were assigned to Game and Technology Co back in January. According to CorporationWiki, the assignee company was incorporated in Texas earlier this year, while its address locates it in a suburb of Seoul, South Korea. The three patents were assigned to ID back in 2014 from Korean company NHN Entertainment.

It is not clear if Game and Technology Co paid ID to acquire the patents in question. It is also unclear if the two companies maintain any kind of ongoing association, or if the latter is due any cut of licensing fees that may be collected by the former in relation to the litigation. IAM has contacted Intellectual Discovery for comment; we will let you know if we receive a response.

Interestingly, CorporationWiki names Changsun Park as manager of Game and Technology Co. A patent attorney named Changsun Park worked for ID until June this year, after which it appears he left to become a founding partner at InventGo, a Seoul-based IP law and strategy firm.

ID has been busy since its formation in 2010 in strategically deploying its IP assets through less confrontational means than assertion. According to the USPTO assignments database, since 2013, ID has assigned 18 US patent assets to Hyundai Motor and 6 to Korean start-up Neolab Convergence; back in 2012 it also assigned a patent to Google.

However, it always seemed inevitable that the firm would one day have to adopt a more aggressive approach involving stick licensing and litigation. This has likely become more and more urgent of late, with ID presumably having spent much, if not all, of its initial capital and needing more than ever to demonstrate to its financial backers – including the Korean state and several of the country’s major corporates – that they will soon get some definite return on their investment. The Game and Technology Co assertion campaign may be the first manifestation of that new tack. If that is the case, then the litigation coincides with the first known legal action involving ID’s Japanese counterpart IP Bridge, which filed an infringement suit against TCL in Delaware in late July using patents that had formerly belonged to Panasonic.

This gives us an opportunity to examine which entities have been the main sources of patents for ID. The following information has been taken from ktMINE’s database and relates to US patent assets that have been transferred to ID over the past five years, with the top 15 assignors to the firm’s portfolio listed in order of the size of their contributions.

 

Assignor entity Country Number of assets assigned
Electronics & Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) South Korea 321
IBM United States 141
Avago Singapore/United States 132
SK Hynix South Korea 104
Samsung Electronics South Korea 90
SeAH Networks South Korea 46
Thinkware Sytems South Korea 43
Sungkyunkwan University Foundation for Corporate Collaboration South Korea 36
LG Electronics South Korea 23
Kisco South Korea 22
Industry-Academic Cooperation Foundation, Yonsei University South Korea 18
Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials South Korea 18
Korea Electronics Technology Institute South Korea 17
Global LED Solutions LLC United States 14
Conversion Works Canada/United States 13
Industry-University Cooperation Foundation, Hanyang University South Korea 13
Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) South Korea 13
ATLab South Korea 12
KT South Korea 12
BTPatent LLC United States 12