The District Court in Texas ruled in favor of Powermat Technologies Company from Israel, in a lawsuit filed against two Chinese companies, Nanami and Yootech, regarding unauthorized usage of Powermat’s wireless charging patents. Under the terms of the settlement, the Chinese companies, who market wireless chargers (mainly through Amazon), agreed to pay Powermat Technologies an initial payment covering the past use of patented technologies, followed by ongoing quarterly licensing payments for future use, under commercial licensing agreement.
Techtime has learned that this is not a single case, and Powermat had started an extensive move, aimed to monetizing its patents portfolio, composed from around 130 wireless charging patents. This process includes locating companies around the globe that violates Powermat’s patents, and demanding these companies to compensate the company, and later – to sign a licensing agreement for authorized usage. In cases where companies refuse to settle, Powermat may take legal actions, in the same manner they did with Yootech and Nanami.
Powermat estimates that there are hundreds of companies around the world using its patents with no authorization. It was also told to Techtime that this move recently yielded tens of millions of dollars from a licensing agreement with a major smartphone manufacturer that, according to Powermat, misused its technology. Currently, Powermat negotiate with another 20 companies, requiring them to pay and sign a licensing agreement.
The company that manages the commercial litigation battle is First Libra Company. In a conversation with Techtime, Ofer Furth, founder and chairman of First Libra, who also serves as a director in Powermat, says that the potential of this process is huge. Until today, Powermat didn’t engage in monetarizing its patents in a systematic manner. The company owns a large number of patents, and we take it upon ourselves to lead the monetization. When we identify a company infringes a patent, we first try to come to an agreement, and we offer to sign a licensing agreement. If the negotiation fails, we use legal means”.
Essential patents for the QI Standard
Powermat is considered one of the pioneers in the wireless charging area and was the first company in the world to market wireless charging surfaces. The charging is done using electromagnetic induction between the coil in the transmitter and between the coil in the receiver, without the need to plug the device to electrical outlet through cable.
One of the most significant standards in the industry that regulates the wireless charging is the QI Standard. Powermat has number of patents that are defined as “Standard Essential”, that is – they are necessary for the realization of the standard. Powermat took a major part in forming the standard, and is also a member of the WPC consortium, which promotes and enforces the standard.
Companies that want to market a wireless charger with the “QI Certified” seal, must submit their product for inspection in one of the laboratories that work with the WPC. Furth explains that this makes the task of locating transgressors relatively easy. “The minute a company declares that its product has received a QI Standard certification, it is violating Powermat’s patents, as long as it hasn’t signed a licensing agreement. The judge in Texas expressly stated that, and it is very significant for Powermat’s continued efforts”.
Within First Libra’s operation model, it bears the financing of the legal expenses and manages the proceedings, and in case damages are awarded, it gets some of the amount. Furth reveals that the company is currently negotiating with two other Israeli High-Tech companies.
“Israeli technology companies register patents for their technologies, but do not always enforce them. Our goal is to identify companies that hold an extensive patent portfolio and examine whether there is economic viability, since the legal expenses me be high”.