Axis, OnSSI and Tyco All Sued

Author: John Honovich, Published on Aug 23, 2011

The IP Video Surveillance industry is under attack by an aggressive patent troll who, we believe, essentially seeks a tax on all IP cameras and VMS software. To establish their claim, the company, Walker Digital, has filed a lawsuit against Axis, OnSSI and Tyco Safety Products alleging that Axis IP Cameras, OnSSI VMS software and Tyco's video analytics all infringe on their patents.

Background

Walker Digital claims to have 'invented solutions to large scale problems' including evidentaly IP video surveillance. The company is in the middle of suing over 100 companies in a variety of industries. In April, they sued ADT and a number of remote video surveillance monitoring providers. That case was limited to companies who actually provide third party monitoring services, not simply manufacturers of surveillance products.

In June, Walker Digital initiated a new lawsuit against Axis, OnSSI and Tyco with a much broader scope. This lawsuit alleges that Axis IP Cameras like the M10 and OnSSI's Ocularis software violate Walker Digital's patents. The key patents in question include: 6720990, 7,593,033, 7605840 and 7817182.

The Patents

The relevant patents are all about an 'Internet Surveillance System and Method'. Here's an excerpt from the abstract of the oldest patent so you can understand the 'invention':

"A system and method are disclosed for a central server to manage remote monitoring tasks performed by users of a data network. An exemplary method comprises: receiving a request from a user of a user device to monitor a remote location; determining a remote location to be monitored; enabling communication between a sensor at the remote location and the user device; and crediting value to the user in accordance with an amount of time the user device has been in communication with the remote sensor for remote monitoring purposes. An alternate exemplary method includes measuring user attentiveness while the user device is in communication with the remote sensor. Thus, the disclosed system and method provide a way for users of a data network such as the Internet to log on at any time and perform remote monitoring tasks for value. Idle time can now be turned into value using the disclosed system and method."

As discussed in the first lawsuit review against ADT, this does seem applicable for paid third party remote monitoring services, however, there are clear questions about prior art superseding the invention for this use.

For general surveillance products, the focus of this second lawsuit, from our non-legal perspective, the case seems even more difficult.

  • Someone buying an IP camera can and normally uses it in many ways unrelated to remote monitoring for credited value. Indeed, the most common way is to watch one's own cameras. Does this lead to the conclusion that Digital Walker should be paid a royalty for anyone watching their own IP camera in their own home or business?
  • While the first patent application was filed in 1998, we would suspect there is substantial prior art. Axis, itself, claims to have shipped the first IP camera in 1996.

Industries Under Attack

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

We believe this case is an excellent example of patents being used as a tax on innovation rather than the purported goal of patents - to encourage innovation.

We feel that Walker Digital's case against IP Video surveillance products is patent trolling in its most basic form: an aggressive, opportunistic campaign by a company who has never and seemingly has no intention of developing or manufacturing any IP video surveillance solutions themselves.

Currently, this case is the court system with both Tyco and Axis requesting extensions so they can prepare their responses.

For the sake of the industry, Axis must vigorously fight against this lawsuit. While Axis declined to comment on this litigation (standard practice in such matters), they have a history of purchasing patents or licensing them to avoid problems (e.g., with ObjectVideo for OV's questionable patents). It seems pretty clear to us that if Axis settled, this would encourage Walker Digital to sue or seek royalties from anyone else in the industry.

While I think this case has shaky grounds it is one that needs to be tracked closely and defeated for the benefit of the overall industry.

Related Reports

Solink Raises $12 Million - Company Profile on Feb 12, 2019
Most industry professionals have never heard of Solink, a company whose tagline is: It's time to revolutionize the way business uses...
Barnes Buchanan 2019: Despite 'Strange Narrative' Great Time To Be In Security on Feb 11, 2019
A "strange narrative" is being spun, said Michael Barnes at the 2019 Barnes Buchanan Conference. However, despite that narrative, it is a "great...
Designing Access Control Guide on Jan 30, 2019
Designing an access control solution requires decisions on 8 fundamental questions. This in-depth guide helps you understand the options and...
Managed Video Services UL 827B Examined on Jan 09, 2019
Historically, UL listings for central stations have been important, with UL 827 having widespread support. However, few central stations have...
Struggling ASCMA / Brinks Home Security Gets Stock Delisting Warning on Jan 08, 2019
Struggling Ascent Capital Group (NASDAQ: ASCMA) has disclosed a warning from NASDAQ that ASCMA faced delisting unless they reverse their downward...
European Startup Ajax Profile - They "Stand Against Evil" on Jan 03, 2019
European intrusion detection startup Ajax Systems proclaims: How are they standing against evil? And what are the differentiators and potential...
ASCMA / Moni Problems Deepen, Lenders Terminate Support Agreement on Dec 28, 2018
Ascent Capital Group, aka ASCMA, currently branded Brinks Home Security, formerly known as Moni and Monitronics faces a troubling end to a rocky...
Startup Sunflower Labs' Autonomous Drone Security System on Dec 11, 2018
Startup Sunflower Labs is claiming a unique design on a home security system, combining autonomous drones and 'Sunflower' sensors. Imagine an...
VMS Live Monitoring Shootout - Avigilon, Dahua, Exacq, Genetec, Hikvision, Milestone, Network Optix on Dec 05, 2018
Viewing live video is the first interaction and most common task most users have with a VMS. Who does it best and worst? Who offers the most...
ADT Wins Fire Death Suit But Faces Appeal on Dec 05, 2018
ADT/Protection 1 has won a wrongful death court case in which it was sued by the estate of a deceased customer. However, the attorney for the...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Casino Surveillance Pro Interview: James Lathrop on Feb 15, 2019
James Lathrop has been working in casinos for almost 25 years. During that time, he says he has held "just about every job you can do in the...
Hikvision 2018 Revenue Tops $7 Billion USD But Growth Slows To Low on Feb 15, 2019
Hikvision's annual revenue topped $7 billion for the first time in 2018, although growth slowed sharply. In this post, we analyze the latest...
Hanwha Smaller Multi Imager Tested (PNM-9000VQ) on Feb 14, 2019
Hanwha's first repositionable multi imager PNM-9081VQ tested well, but was huge, over 12" wide and weighing in at over 10 pounds. Now, they have...
ADT And 'The Defenders' Silent About Massive Complaints on Feb 14, 2019
ADT's largest dealer, "The Defenders" has been the subject of a massive number of complaints over many years and many forums, most recently a CBS...
Hikvision Chairman Praises United Front on Feb 14, 2019
Hikvision’s controlling shareholder held a meeting last month praising the United Front, a Communist Party organization known for its secretive...
Sales Turnover At Anyvision on Feb 13, 2019
Anyvision raised a $43 million Series A and according to their newest investor: what you need to do is push the gas pedal and build an...
Cisco Meraki Cloud VMS/Cameras Tested on Feb 13, 2019
Cisco Meraki says their cameras "bring Meraki magic to the enterprise video security world". According to Meraki, their magic is their management...
Uniview / UNV Favorability Results 2019 on Feb 12, 2019
Uniview / UNV, the self-proclaimed #3 China manufacturer, while starting late, has been working to make inroads internationally. In IPVM's 2019...
Nortek Mobile Access Reader BluePass Examined on Feb 12, 2019
Nortek's Linear access control division claims to make mobile credentials "more secure and easier to use than ever before" with their BluePass...
Solink Raises $12 Million - Company Profile on Feb 12, 2019
Most industry professionals have never heard of Solink, a company whose tagline is: It's time to revolutionize the way business uses...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact