Major automakers with a substantial New Jersey footprint are facing a lawsuit accusing them of patent infringement. One company has filed 15 suits in the past four years, accusing General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Maserati, among others, of infringing its patents to integrate mobile devices with auto entertainment systems. The Texas company, Blitzsafe, sells devices to connect smartphones and tablets to car stereo systems. It registered patents in 2009 and 2012 for the technology involved in its devices, which allow users to make hands-free calls and play music stored on their phones.
The patents cover both wired and Bluetooth integrations. The lawsuit says that GM, Fiat and Maserati are infringing Blitzsafe’s patents through their systems that allow connections with phones and other mobile devices. They can be found in Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick, Chrysler, Fiat, Dodge, Jeep, Maserati and other brand labels. Blitzsafe alleges that the companies are knowingly infringing on its patents because they are aware of its technologies due to previous litigation it has filed. The company says it is entitled to treble damages and attorneys’ fees as a result. It has settled many of its past patent complaints against automakers.
Interestingly, Blitzsafe is headquartered in Marshall, Texas, a town that became famous for the many patent infringement lawsuits filed there of various levels of validity. Some companies filed suits there because of the relatively quick court procedures. After the Supreme Court ruled that patent holders could no longer choose their venue for suits, some companies chose to set up shop in Marshall before pursuing their claims.
Patent infringement lawsuits can be an important way for entrepreneurs to protect their intellectual property although some may be of dubious merit and referred to as “patent trolls.” People dealing with potential patent litigation may consult with an intellectual property attorney about their options to move forward.