In an unprecedented move bound to have a major impact across the global video surveillance industry, ObjectVideo has filed a lawsuit against Bosch, Samsung and Sony for patent infringement. On April 6, 2010, ObjectVideo filed suit in US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia claiming violations of 4 video analytic patents.
Why Did This Happen?
ObjectVideo has been struggling for the last few years. After the video analytic hype bubble burst so too did Object Video's fortunes - layoffs inside the company and widespread dissapointment with ObjectVideo's performance across the industry followed (see Pro updates on OV's poor reputation and 'nobody' wanting OV's analytics).
In the last year, OV seemed to fade away - no major new advances and not even much public communication. Then, at the beginning of 2011, an SEC document disclosed that ObjectVideo received a whopping $27.7 Million USD investment - all the more surprising given OV's lack of real world success. Just last week, we released a Pro analysis on OV's funding and future, citing patent litigtion as a likely center of OV's going forward strategy. Then, on Monday, our web spider picked up a new page on OV's website listing a VP of Litigation. Upon seeing that, we quipped at the time, "Dear analytic manufacturers, your lawsuits are in the mail :)" We were, evidently, more right than we knew.
What Does this Mean?
We believe ObjectVideo is going after 'big fish' - the largest manufacturers in the world with the deepest pockets (by most metrics Bosch, Samsung and Sony are in the Top 10 globally in the surveillance industry). While there are dozens of small video analytic only manufacturers, most are doing less than $10 Million in revenue and are likely poor financial targets.
Notably absent from this lawsuit are Axis, Pelco and Cisco. As we examined in our OV future review, Axis has licensed patents from OV to protect itself from this. Pelco and Cisco both OEM / re-sell OV analytic software.
We believe this will have a chilling effect over the entire video analytic industry (as if the struggling analytic industry needed another black eye). Until this is resolved, all users face real risk from using not only Bosch, Samsung and Sony products but any other analytic that OV might sue.
The End of OV
Whether OV 'wins' this lawsuit or not, we think OV is finished as an ongoing operational company, certainly in their current incarnation. OV's historical approach was to partner with video surveillance companies, OEMing their video analytic software. After this offensive, we believe surveillance manufacturers would be resistant to partner with OV (unless they were essentially forced by court decision). That noted, OV is likely doing this because the OEM model has failed. This looks to us as their last ditch effort to make a return on the massive amount invested / wasted in OV over the last decade.
We are tracking the OV lawsuit campaign. Here are recent updates:
- Are ObjectVideo's Patents Invalid? - May 4, 2011
- Sony Fights Back Against ObjectVideo - May 9, 2011
- ObjectVideo Expands Patent Infringement Claims - May 14, 2011
- ObjectVideo / Mirasys Patent Agreement Examined - May 16, 2011
- New Evidence Against OV's Patent Claims - June 1, 2011
- US ITC to Investigate ObjectVideo Charges - July 28, 2011
- Defense Building Against OV's USITC Case - October 3, 2011
- When will the ObjectVideo Lawsuits End? - December 8, 2011
- Sony Folds to ObjectVideo Lawsuit - February 8, 2012
- 60 Day Ultimatum - March 23, 2012
- Are ObjectVideo's Patent About to Get Invalidated? - April 18, 2012
- Pelco Sued by ObjectVideo - May 14, 2012
- Samsung Beats OV - July 21, 2012