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Ancora Technologies, Inc. v. HTC America, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

December 14, 2017

ANCORA TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
HTC AMERICA, INC. and HTC CORPORATION, Defendants.

          ORDER

          The Honorable Richard A. Jones, United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants HTC America, Inc. and HTC Corporation's (collectively, “Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss. Dkt. # 18. Plaintiff Ancora Technologies, Inc. (“Ancora”) opposes the Motion. Dkt. # 30. Having considered the submissions of the parties, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that oral argument is unnecessary. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Dkt. # 18.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Ancora alleges that Defendants have infringed and are continuing to infringe “at least claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 6, 411, 941 (“the ‘941 Patent”) by making, offering for sale or use, and/or selling, distributing, promoting or providing for use by others in this district and elsewhere in the United States, products including, but not limited to, the HTC One M7, HTC One Mini, HTC One Max, HTC One M8, HTC One mini 2, HTC Desire 620, HTC One M9, HTC One M8s, HTC One A9 and HTC 10 (“Accused Devices”).” Dkt. # 1 ¶ 13.

         Ancora asserts the ‘941 Patent which is entitled, “Method of Restricting Software Operation Within A License Limitation.” Dkt. # 19 Ex. A. It was issued on June 25, 2002 and a reexamination certificate was issued on June 1, 2010. The ‘941 Patent purports to improve on prior art by providing a different method of identifying and restricting an unauthorized software program's operation. Id. at 4. The specification describes previous methods of checking license coverage of software as vulnerable to hacking, or expensive and inconvenient to distribute. Id. The ‘941 Patent teaches a method and system of preventing unauthorized use of software by checking whether a software program is licensed and stopping the program or taking other action if it is not. The license verification “key” is stored in a computer's “Basic Input/Output System” (“BIOS”). The patent specification states that the level of programming expertise needed to alter the contents of a computer's BIOS without accidentally damaging it is very high, making it harder for a hacker to tamper with the “key” when it is stored in the BIOS as opposed to other storage areas. This method also makes use of the existing computer hardware, which eliminates the expense and inconvenience of using additional hardware. Id.

         Independent Claim 1 of the ‘941 Patent claims:

1. A method of restricting software operation within a license for use with a computer including an erasable, non-volatile memory area of a BIOS of the computer, and a volatile memory area; the method comprising the steps of:
selecting a program residing in the volatile memory,
using an agent to set up a verification structure in the erasable, nonvolatile memory of the BIOS, the verification structure accommodating data that includes at least one license record,
verifying the program using at least the verification structure from the erasable non-volatile memory of the BIOS, and
acting on the program according to the verification.

         Dkt. # 19 Ex. A. Defendants assert that Independent Claim 1 is representative of the other claims in the ‘941 Patent.

         The ‘941 Patent has been involved in litigation against Microsoft Corporation, Dell Incorporated, Hewlett Packard Incorporated, Toshiba America Information Systems, and most recently, Apple Incorporated. See Ancora Techs., Inc. v. Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. et al., No. 09-cv-270-MJP (W.D. Wash.); Ancora Techs., Inc. v. Apple Inc., No. 11-cv-6357-YGR (N.D. Cal.); Ancora Techs., Inc. v. Apple Inc., No. 15-cv-3659-YGR (N.D. Cal.); Ancora Techs., Inc. v. Apple, Inc., 744 F.3d 732, 736 (Fed. ...


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