Uber and Lyft were both served a complaint by Quartz Auto Technologies for patent infringement. The complaint states that each of these patents was owned by IBM, but were assigned to Quartz Auto Technologies LLC around February 13th or 14th of this year. The suit against Uber was filed on Feb. 28, 2020, and the suit against Lyft was filed ten days earlier on Feb. 18. Both cases are located in the Western District of Texas.
The patents-in-suit are United States Patent No. 6,446,004 (“the ’004 Patent”); 6,807,464 (“the ’464 Patent”); 7,370,085 (“the ’085 Patent”); 7,958,215 (“the ’215 Patent”); 9,460,616 (“the ’616 Patent”); and 9,691,275 (“the ’275 Patent”). The ‘275 patent is only cited in the complaint against Uber, but all other patents were addressed in both complaints.
Quartz Auto Technologies, represented by Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig, is a new company and it is unclear what service they provide. The patents mentioned in the lawsuit are associated with the way Uber and Lyft work and the technology to provide a location-based service to consumers. The ‘004 patent is for a system of “proximity driven activity” which allows requests to be executed at some point in the future or at a specific location, the complaint alleges that Uber and Lyft are using these ideas because of the proximity driven activity in their systems.
The ‘464 patent is associated with “vehicle control information,” which they claim “may refer to any information that can be used by an operator with respect to a vehicle, and may be provided to the operator.” They claim this patent is infringed by the way Lyft and Uber’s systems distribute information to drivers. The ‘085 patent creates a similar allegation, they claim this copyright is infringed by “defendant’s use of geographical reference data to depict various drivers in the vicinity of a potential passenger on its Uber application.”
Each of the complaints presents multiple claims of infringement in the ‘215 patent, one of which being the communication available between a driver and a customer in Uber and Lyft’s systems. The ‘616 patent is allegedly infringed because it addressed improvements in working in geographic space. The ‘275 patent, which is only addressed in the suit against Uber, deals with processing passenger location.
Quartz Auto Technologies claim their patents “overcame shortcomings in the prior art,” and the patented systems provided a solution that helped Uber and Lyft become successful. IBM recently joined a network designed to protect large technology companies from so-called “patent trolls.”