BMW Faces Patent Lawsuit Over In-car Hotspots

Cross-posted on A Law Student's Digital Mark.

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BMW's removable "Car Hotspot LTE" system is controlled from the center console and can support up to 8 devices.

On Wednesday, Antennatech, LLC filed a five-page complaint against BMW of North America LLC for patent infringement. There are two patents allegedly violated by BMW: U.S. Patent No. 5,493,702 ("Antenna Transmission Coupling Arrangement") and U.S. Patent No. 8,180,279 ("Wireless Hotspot Arrangement").

The complaint accuses BMW of infringing the '702 patent by the implementation of a system that connects a cell phone to an external antenna in order to boost reception. Additionally, Antennatech alleges that BMW infringes upon the '279 patent through use of a car system that connects a cell phone to an internal radio frequency ("RF") system. The internal RF system uses one RF antenna to transmit and receive signals from the cell phone while another RF system is used to transmit and receive the signals from nearby networks. The system then utilizes a hotspot-type computer-controlled bridge to connect and control the two antennae.

BMW announced the removable ConnectedDrive at last spring's New York International Auto Show. The newest upgrade to the system introduced LTE support and the implementation of the in-car hotspot. The device, stored in the center console, uses its own SIM card and grabs a signal boost from the car's antenna. Based upon the complaint, this setup appears to be what Antennatech argues infringes their patents.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office issued the '702 patent to Antennatech in February 1996 and the '279 patent in May 2012.

Download and read a copy of the complaint here.

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Figure 2 from the '702 patent.

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Figure 3B from the '279 patent.