Law Street Media

Tesla Sued For Patent Infringement Over Vehicle Connectivity

Indianapolis - Circa April 2017: Tesla Service Center. Tesla designs and manufactures the Model S electric sedan IV

Optis Wireless Technology, LLC et al filed a complaint against Tesla Inc. for patent infringement on Sunday in the Eastern District of Texas alleging that defendant Tesla has infringed the asserted patents by using cellular connectivity in its vehicles.

The patents-in-suit are United States Patent Nos. 8,149,727 (the ’727 patent); 8,199,792 (the ’792 patent); 8,223,863 (the ’863 patent); 8,254,335 (the ’335 patent); and 8,320,319 (the ’319 patent). The plaintiffs asserted that these patents “are necessary to practice the 3GPP LTE cellular technical specification,” which Tesla purportedly did not have a license to use. Furthermore, the plaintiffs stated that they have tried to reach a licensing agreement with Tesla, but were unable to do so. The plaintiffs claimed that the “(c)ellular technologies 3rd Generation Partnership Project (‘3GPP’) has enabled companies, including Tesla with no history in the wireless communication development, to sell products such as electrical vehicles equipped with integrated cellular connectivity.” The 3GPP “produces technical specifications that define cellular technologies.”

According to the complaint, Tesla directly and indirectly infringed the patents-in-suit through its “connected vehicles that communicate over the 4G/LTE cellular network standard that practices the technology covered by” the asserted patents. Specifically, Optis Wireless stated that Tesla’s infringing products include “all Tesla automobiles without limitation Tesla’s Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, that are configure to communicate over the 4G/LTE cellular network.” Furthermore, the plaintiffs alleged that “these models include 3GPP LTE-practicing baseband processor” and “RF transceiver, antennas, CPU, RF power amplifiers, user graphical interfaces, and other software and hardware. All of these components combine together to enable the Tesla vehicles, Tesla, and the users of those vehicles to conduct LTE communications by practicing the 3GPP LTE standards.”

Specifically, Tesla allegedly infringed the ’727 patent, entitled “Radio Transmission Apparatus, and Radio Transmission Method.” According to the plaintiffs, Tesla’s accused products infringe on at least one claim of the ’727 patent. “Tesla makes, uses, sells, offers for sale, exports, and/or imports…these vehicles that are compatible with…(and) utilize the 4G/LTE standard and thus directly infringes the ’727 patent.” As stated in the claim chart, “(a) transmitting method for use by a transmitting apparatus for transmitting data and control information in a single carrier system, the method comprising: a determining a modulation and coding scheme (MCS) for the data based on information for determining the MCS, the information for determining the MCS being transmitted from a base station…” The plaintiffs pointed to the technical requirements as well to illustrate the purported infringement.  The allegations for the remaining patents-in-suit are similar to those of the ’727 patent; the claims revolve around Tesla’s purported infringement for it vehicles that have and use cellular networks and the established standards and components for the networks and standards.

The plaintiffs have sought declaratory relief, an award for damages, pre and post judgment interest, and other relief.

The plaintiffs are represented by McKool Smith, P.C.

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