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April 17, 2014

Georgia Now Included in Brandywine Communications’ Patent Litigation “Suing Spree”

On December 28, 2012, plaintiff Brandywine Communications Technologies, LLC (“Brandywine”) filed a patent infringement complaint against Nahunta, Georgia-based BTC Communications, Inc. (“BTC”), in the Brunswick Division of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia.  This appears to be Brandywine’s first foray into Georgia, though to say Brandywine has been active elsewhere would be an understatement.

A website associates the acronym BTC with Brantley Telephone Company.  A web page of that site states: “Owned and operated by Dr. A.W. Strickland and his family, BTC delivers the latest technology to its customers despite its rural service area.  BTC operates a cutting edge fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network that offers reliable landline telephone, unmatched broadband data speeds, and an IP-based television system that is one of the first of its kind anywhere.”

Brandywine, based in Villanova, Pennsylvania, asserts the following patents against BTC, describing BTC’s “DSL services and equipment” as accused products and services:

Patent No.
Issue Date
Title
04/27/93
“Detecting Loss of Echo Cancellation”
10/05/93
“Predistortion Technique for Communications Systems”
09/22/98
“Echo Canceling Method and Apparatus for Data Over Cellular”
10/27/98
“Half-Duplex Echo Canceler Training Using a Pilot Signal”
11/29/05
“Method and Apparatus For Automatic Selection and Operation of a Subscriber Line Spectrum
Class Technology”
02/22/11
“Method and Apparatus For Automatic Selection and Operation of a Subscriber Line Spectrum
Class Technology”

Brandywine alleges that on December 10, 2012 (i.e., only 18 days before it filed suit), it sent BTC a letter notifying it of the alleged infringement of the above patents.  The complaint asserts willful patent infringement and thus requests an award of enhanced damages and attorneys’ fees, among other forms of relief.

BTC is hardly alone in having such patents asserted against it.  An author of a January 2, 2013 article titled “Patent Troll Brandywine Takes Aim at DSL: 39 ISPs Sued and Counting...,” published in www.broadbandreports.com, has this to say concerning Brandywine’s patent crusade against DSL-related companies:

A prodigious patent troll is now taking aim at ISPs large and small, hoping to extract cash from ISPs for simply using DSL gear.  According to numerous court filings, a company by the name of Brandywine Communications Technologies is on a suing spree, claiming that numerous ISPs have violated seven different DSL-related patent Brandywine claims to own.

The patents involved covering numerous broad DSL-related concepts ranging from "detecting loss of echo cancellation" (U.S. patent number 5,206,854) to "predistortion technique for communications systems" (U.S. patent number 5,251,328). The former of those two patents has had nine different homes in recent years, according to information from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The company only recently sued more than 39 different ISPs and network operators. Roughly around a year ago the company sued AT&T, Verizon and Centurylink, and is currently in the process of settling with Earthlink.  They’ve since sued dozen of additional ISPs including Windstream, IKANO, Megapath (formerly Covad) and many more.

The case is Brandywine Communications Technologies, LLC v. BTC Communications, Inc., No. 2:12-cv-215-LGW-JEG, filed 12/28/12 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Brunswick Division, assigned to Chief Judge Lisa G. Wood, and referred to Magistrate Judge James E. Graham.

Copyright © 2014 Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC. All Rights Reserved.

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Established in Winston-Salem in 1876, the firm now comprises 550 lawyers in 14 offices, including Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Greensboro, Research Triangle Park, Raleigh, NC; Atlanta, GA; Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, SC; Tysons Corner, VA; Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD, Wilmington, DE and Silicon Valley, CA..  A full-service business law firm, Womble Carlyle serves a wide range of regional, national and international clients in industries that include health care, life sciences, financial services, commercial real estate, intellectual property/patent, and telecommunications,...

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