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Subsidiary of Va. patent licensing company sues four printer companies for infringement

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Mar 10, 2014

MARSHALL, Texas (Legal Newsline) -- A subsidiary of Marathon Patent Group Inc., a Virginia-based patent licensing company, is suing four major printer companies for patent infringement.

CyberFone Systems LLC filed its complaints against Lexmark, Konica Minolta, Ricoh and Xerox in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, late last month.

The federal court has become a popular venue for such patent infringement cases because of its set of local rules for such cases and rather fast trial settings.

CyberFone, in its four separate complaints filed Feb. 21, is asserting infringements relating to U.S. Patent 6,044,382.

Click here to read one of the complaints.

The complaints allege that the defendants have infringed, and continue to infringe, the claims of the patents by using the accused systems and methods covered by the claims of the asserted patent.

The patent portfolio covers a system where transaction entry devices, such as copiers and printers, utilize a simple form-based operating system to communicate between the device and a remote server or computer.

This component eliminates the need for an expensive and complex point of entry system.

"In the beginning, computers were very expensive and hard to manage," explained Mark Raskin, head of the litigation team at Mishcon de Reya New York LLP, retained by CyberFone.

"So Dr. (Rocco) Martino's thought was, have a more complex, powerful computer do the heavy lifting."

Martino, an inventor and president of CyberFone, is responsible for dozens of patented inventions, many in the data processing and computer transaction fields.

Over the years, CyberFone has executed more than 40 settlement and license agreements in an effort to protect Martino's patented inventions.

"Dr. Martino is incredibly valuable to all inventors and innovators," said Doug Croxall, CEO of Marathon.

"It is important to recognize him, especially in light of the anti-patent troll rhetoric coming from the executive and legislative branches of our government."

Raskin said Croxall has known Martino for many years, and has a "soft spot" for such inventors.

"A lot of times, patented technology will sit on a shelf and companies just go and use it," Raskin said. "Unfortunately, a lot of inventors don't think twice about it."

But will the defendant companies automatically classify CyberFone as a so-called "patent troll" for taking such action?

Generally speaking, a patent troll, or non-practicing entity or patent assertion entity, purchases groups of patents without an intent to market or develop a product.

In some cases, but not all, the entity then targets other businesses with lawsuits alleging infringement of the patents it bought.

"There are very few defendants in patent litigation that don't try to make that argument," Raskin said, adding that his firm is "determined" to help the company take the steps in "righting what has been wronged."

The printer companies could not immediately be reached for comment on the litigation.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at patents@legalnewsline.com.

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