Lawsuit Charges Infringement of Digital Cinema System Patents

On March 26, 2014, RealD Inc. (NYSE: RLD) filed separate patent lawsuits in the United States District Court for the Central District of California against MasterImage 3D and Volfoni. The lawsuits RealD, Inc. v. Volfoni, Inc. et. al. (2:14-cv-02303) and RealD, Inc. v. MasterImage 3D, Inc. et. al. (2:14-cv-02304) allege that both the MasterImage 3D MI-Horizon3D products and the Volfoni SmartCrystal Diamond product infringes four patent owned by Real D. The lawsuits seek monetary damages as well as preliminary and permanent injunctive relief.

While intellectual property dates back to 2006, the RealD XL Cinema System was introduced in 2008 and today is the world’s most widely used 3D cinema projection technology with more than 15,000 units installed around the world. The XL Cinema System delivers twice the light efficiency of any other 3D cinema projection technology, and as a result, it provides a superior projected 3D image at a lower operating cost.

The patents asserted in each case are:

  1. U.S. Patent Nos. 7,905,602 and 8,220,934, which relate to polarization conversion systems for stereoscopic projection; and
  2. U.S. Patent Nos. , 7,857,455 and 7,959,296, which relate to a multiple path stereoscopic projection system.

The ‘602 and ‘934 patents, which share a common specification, disclose a a polarization conversion system that includes a polarization beam splitter (PBS), a polarization rotator, and a polarization switch. The PBS can receive randomly-polarized light bundles from a projector lens, and direct first light bundles having a first state of polarization (SOP) along a first light path. The PBS can also direct second light bundles having a second SOP along a second light path. The polarization rotator is located on the second light path, and translates the second SOP to the first SOP. Light bundles are transmitted toward a projection screen. A reflecting element can be located in the second light path to direct second light bundles toward a projection screen such that the first and second light bundles substantially overlap to form a brighter screen image.

The ‘455 and ‘296 patents, which also share a common specification, disclose an apparatus for projecting stereoscopic images. The apparatus comprises a polarizing splitting element configured to receive image light energy and split the image light energy received into a primary path of light energy along with a secondary path of light energy. The apparatus further comprises a reflector configured to receive secondary path light energy and direct reflected secondary path light energy toward a projection surface. A first polarization modulator is employed and positioned in the primary path and configured to receive the primary path of light energy, modulate the primary path of light energy into primary path light energy, and transmit primary path modulated light energy toward the surface or projection screen.

The complaints, which are similar, charge the defendants with both directly infringing one or more claims of the patents, and also indirectly infringing as well by actively inducing customers and users to use, sell, offer for sale, and/or import into the U.S. digital cinema systems that embody one or more of the claims in the disputed patents. The complaints further allege that the defendants knew or should have known that their continued sales of the allegedly infringing digital systems would induce direct infringement by customers and/or users, and that the defendants still nevertheless failed to redesign the allegedly infringing digital cinema systems to cease infringing.

“Over the years, RealD has invested heavily in research & development to ensure a premium visual experience for our customers, partners and consumers around the world. As a result, we place great value on our intellectual property,” said Michael V. Lewis, Chairman and CEO of RealD.

RealD is represented by Baker & MCKenzie partner James Pak, who is out of their San Francisco Offices.



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