Boston-based Scvngr, which sells a system that lets smartphone users pay for purchases, is suing an Illinois company before it can sue Svngr for patent infringement.
Scvngr, maker of the LevelUp payment system, accused eCharge Licensing, LLC of being nothing more than a patent troll trying to extort money from true innovators based on patents that should have been laid to rest years ago, in a lawsuit filed yesterday in US District Court in Boston.
In the suit, Scvngr said eCharge has sent several threatening letters over the patents, which cover cashless payment systems, and demanded money. Scvngr says it's not going to pay that game:
Following the November 1994 filing, over the course of the next eighteen-plus years, between November 1994 and July 2013, the patentee executed a systematic strategy to delay prosecution of the patent application, and related continuing applications, in order to maintain for itself unfairly the ability to add patent claims that were broadened in an effort to cover innovations developed by others that the patentee had not contemplated at the time of the alleged invention. The patentee’s unreasonable and unexplained delay in prosecution constitutes an egregious misuse of the statutory patent system.
During the period of the patentee’s delay in prosecution, persons in the field, including LevelUp, invested in and developed technology that came into general use and was proven commercially profitable, while the patentee simply stood by and awaited such developments.
The suit also alleges:
eCharge’s sole business is to assert claims for patent infringement against targeted entities, in the form of demand letters and complaints filed in the United States district courts. eCharge then seeks to leverage the high costs of defending against such claims in order to obtain payments, nominally designated as license fees or settlements, that are lower than the attorneys’ fees and costs that would be incurred if the targeted entity were to defend the infringement claim and/or prove the asserted patents to be invalid or unenforceable.
Scvngr seeks to have all of eCharge's mobile-payment patents declared invalid, along with monetary damages and lawyer's fees.