Like just about every other legal settlement in the very strange saga of the patent troll that's been suing public transit agencies, this latest agreement is under wraps as well. But at least we know the outcome is finally a good one for transit agencies and their riders: ArrivalStar, the holder of several dubious patents covering real-time transportation notifications, has agreed to stop claiming patent infringement against the 1,500 agencies that belong to the American Public Transportation Association.
APTA sued ArrivalStar in June on behalf of all its members, after the Luxembourg-based patent holder had extracted settlements from at least 11 known U.S. transit agencies over a period of several years. ArrivalStar claimed that the most mundane and publicly beneficial of technologies – apps and systems that track the real-time movement and arrival of buses and trains – violated patents that were more than 20 years old.
ArrivalStar sued the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the New York Metropolitan Transport Authority, and Seattle’s King County Metro Transit, among others. An unknown number of other agencies received letters threatening lawsuits and demanding licensing fees as well. All of the agencies targeted by ArrivalStar evidently made the calculation that it would be less costly to settle with the company than to fight its patent claims in court.