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

ADT Launches Canopy - Professional Monitoring For DIY Devices on Jan 19, 2017
The intrusion industry has criticized DIY security systems for years, claiming systems like Canary or Scout cannot match professionally installed...
Alarm Reporting Formats Overview on Jan 12, 2017
Alarm reporting formats are methods for communicating complicated information quickly, using plain old telephone service. It is still the main...
Honeywell Ademco Vista Intrusion System Tested on Jan 11, 2017
One of the biggest brands in security holds one of the most common intrusion lines. We bought and tested a Honeywell Vista 15P intrusion...
Introduction To Burglar Alarm Systems on Jan 04, 2017
While alarm systems are popular, balancing between the right level of protection, the appropriate components and an acceptable price can be very...
No One Should Ever Use Simplisafe on Dec 12, 2016
Simplisafe, the upstart DIY intrusion alarm system, is increasingly Public Enemy Number One in the alarm business. Recently, Security Sales ran an...
Video Surveillance Manufacturers Risk Lawsuits For Botnet Attacks on Oct 24, 2016
The unprecedented scale of internet outages on October 21st from botnet attacks risk triggering lawsuits against video surveillance manufacturers,...
No Marketing Gimmick, Sharp Security Robot Targets Professional Market on Oct 17, 2016
Security robots are getting a lot of attention. Unfortunately, this is often for wrong reasons, most spectacularly highlighted by the Knightscope...
Pelco Optera 270° Camera Tested on Sep 06, 2016
Multi-imager cameras are typically 180° or 360°. Pelco has released a fixed 270° versions of their Optera intended to cover exterior building...
Ex-Microsoft Exec Surveillance Startup Nepoware on Sep 02, 2016
Former Microsoft executive Richard Ang says he wanted to build an IoT device, and so he has spent 3 years developing what he says is a more...
Viakoo Health Monitoring Examined on Aug 26, 2016
Viakoo, the company of ex-Intransa leaders, says they have created a monitoring tool for security networks that is easy to deploy and offers...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Vivotek Favorability Results on Jan 20, 2017
Financially, Vivotek is doing relatively well. The company did ~$130 million in 2015 revenue and 2016 revenue (through Q3 reported) was up more...
PR Firm Pleads Don't Scrap PR Spending on Jan 20, 2017
PR is not dying, warns pleads PR firm. Take 40+ year old industry PR firm LRG, who recently lamented the 'misconceptions' that: Traditional PR...
Getting Started With Your IPVM Membership on Jan 20, 2017
Here's how to get started and get the most out of your IPVM membership. Books for Members All members can download the 3 member-only books below...
Jim Cramer Sucks Up To Knightscope on Jan 19, 2017
Credit must be given to Knightscope. They are raising money right now and despite their $80 million pre-money valuation against a lowly sub $1...
ADT Launches Canopy - Professional Monitoring For DIY Devices on Jan 19, 2017
The intrusion industry has criticized DIY security systems for years, claiming systems like Canary or Scout cannot match professionally installed...
Dahua UnFavorability Results on Jan 19, 2017
Dahua, the mega-Chinese surveillance manufacturer not primarily owned by the Chinese government has been trying to break out of the shadow of...
Paxton Hosted Access - Disruptive Low Dealer Pricing on Jan 19, 2017
Paxton is entering the hosted access game, with BLU, at a cost that is a fraction of key competitors. The different approach could be very...
Geovision Launches Direct Cloud Offering on Jan 18, 2017
Add cloud, subtract integrator. Geovision has launched myGVcloud, an offering that allows consumers to buy cameras and cloud services directly...
Anixter / Bosch Sells Direct to Amazon on Jan 18, 2017
Anixter regularly says they do not sell direct to end users or that they do not do it anymore. However, over the past year, Anixter has sold Bosch...
Smart Power Tools For Security Installs on Jan 18, 2017
Installing a smart camera? Perhaps you should use a 'smart' drill. The intelligent appliance / IoT trend has hit power tools. In this note, we...

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