Silicon Valley Patent Holder Sues GENBAND

GENBAND is coming under legal fire from a Silicon Valley firm that buys intellectual property rights and shares any resulting revenue with the sellers.

Inventergy Inc., a subsidiary of publicly traded Inventergy Global Inc. (the former eOn Communications Corp.), said on Tuesday that GENBAND is infringing on five U.S. patents within its IMS and VoIP technology portfolios.

The accusation comes exactly 14 months after Inventergy purchased 182 IMS and VoIP patents and pending patent applications from Huawei, a GENBAND rival in the carrier and enterprise sectors. Inventergy also holds IMS and VoIP property from other sources.

The suit further follows GENBAND’s launch earlier this year of Smart Office 2.0, a business WebRTC UC platform that relies on Internet protocol technologies. Huawei and GENBAND both have ramped up their focus on enterprises, not just service providers, over the past couple of years as those customers prove hungry for sophisticated, yet affordable, infrastructure.

Inventergy filed its suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, where GENBAND is headquartered.

Likely not by coincidence, that court also is known for attracting patent litigation. Over the years, judges in Eastern Texas have shown particular favor to patent plaintiffs, many of whom come from the technology world. The entities filing such lawsuits often are called “patent trolls” because they target other companies’ intellectual property. In most cases, they shoot for a lucrative settlement out of court; however, when negotiations don’t take off or go awry, they will take the matter in front of a judge.

But let’s be clear – Inventergy objects to a “patent troll” description.

“We represent people who want to monetize their portfolio in a professional and ethical way,” Inventergy CEO Joe Beyers, who served as HP’s chief IP officer for more than six years, told the Silicon Valley Business Journal in June 2013.

“The issue is behavior,” he added. “We won’t send out 8,000 demand letters or try to make money from patents that are weak or of uncertain value. That’s how trolls behave and we are squarely against that.”

To that point, Beyers said in a July 15 press release that Inventergy has tried to talk with GENBAND about licensing. Those attempts went “without success,” he said.

“It is unfortunate that we had to file this lawsuit, but it was necessary to protect our rights,” Beyers said. “Nevertheless, we are still open to working with GENBAND to resolve this matter through license discussions rather than protracted litigation.”

A GENBAND spokeswoman told Channel Partners the company does not comment on pending litigation.

The Inventergy action comes a few days after the firm told investors in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the company has not earned revenue through March 31, 2014.

Inventergy was founded in January 2012 under the name Silicon Turbine Systems LCC; it changed its name to Inventergy LLC two months later, then converted from an LLC into a Delaware corporation in February 2013.

If Inventergy gets money as a result of its action against GENBAND, it will have to share proceeds with Huawei, and any other IMS and VoIP patent holders with which it has teamed. The July 11 SEC filing notes that if Inventergy generates a certain amount of revenue from the Huawei assets, it must make a one-time payment and share a percentage of quarterly net revenue.

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