Mark IV say TransCore violating patent by reading its transponders with E6 reader

May 20, 2009
By Peter Samuel

Mark IV, manufacturers of E-ZPass transponders and readers for the E-ZPass Inter Agency Group (IAG) members claim that rivals TransCore are violating several of their patents on the Greenville Southern Connector. Mark IV cite an announcement March 31 that the Greenville SC tollroad is using TransCore's "Encompass 6" (E6) readers, and that these "support both IAG and SeGo protocols."

Mark IV in their statement say this "makes clear they have been using TransCore readers with Mark IV IVHS transponders on the Southern Connector Toll Road and in doing so violated three Mark IV IVHS patents."

Mark IV in effect are claiming that TransCore's E6 multiprotocol readers are an infringement of their patents because they can read their transponders.

The E6s are not in fact reading IAG transponders because the Southern Connector tollroad is not a member of the IAG, has no business arrangements in place to toll IAG transponders, or to receive payment from IAG members. However they are indisputably reading Mark IV transponders because from the beginning the Southern Connector has issued Mark IV transponders, and recently replaced Mark IV readers with TransCore E6 readers.

Mark IV is claiming, in effect, that no one may read one of their existing IAG protocol transponders with a reader manufactured by another party.

COMMENT: Mark IV officers won't comment but we don't understand how they can still claim patent rights to transponders and readers of a design that goes back to the early 1990s. They have received excellent compensation for their innovation from IAG members as a sole source uncompeted supplier since 1995.

The IAG needs to take a firm stand against Mark IV here. Mark IV's claim that any other reader that reads IAG transponders is an infringement of their patent rights is a direct challenge to the whole huge procurement of new toll technology and toll equipment underway at the IAG.

That's because any competitive bid in the procurement must offer equipment that can read existing Mark IV transponders for the inevitable transition of several years to new technology. There are about 25 million such transponders on the windshields of motor vehicles from Maine to West Virginia and from New Jersey to Illinois. You don't replace them overnight. Any new electronic toll system will have to comprise dual mode readers, with a Mark IV/IAG read capability as well as the new technology being adopted.

Mark IV is making a preposterous claim for a monopoly of electronic tolling with the IAG beyond the expiry of existing IAG contracts and beyond the normal patent protection period.

The IAG needs to stand clearly against Mark IV on this monopoly claim, and make clear it is  unacceptable. The IAG should state that TransCore, Kapsch, Sirit and any other bidders will be authorized by IAG, and supported with its considerable legal and financial resources to uphold the right of others to read Mark IV IAG transponders.

Otherwise IAG's current procurement is a farce and a fraud, and it is only going through the motions of a competition for new toll technology. Editor.

End COMMENT TOLLROADSnews 2009-05-20

Full text of Mark IV IVHS statement today:

"MARK IV IVHS Notifies TransCore of Patent Infringements

"MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO (May 20, 2009) - Mark IV Industries Corp (“MARK IV IVHS”), a global technology leader and innovator of intelligent transportation systems, today notified TransCore, a division of Roper Industries, that TransCore is violating several MARK IV IVHS patents and that TransCore must cease and desist all infringing activities.  TransCore has 30 days in which to enter into good faith negotiations with MARK IV IVHS in an effort to resolve this dispute.  If a resolution is not reached, MARK IV IVHS will file suit in U.S. District Court to enforce its intellectual property rights.

"TransCore’s announcement of March 31, 2009 made clear they have been using TransCore readers with MARK IV IVHS transponders on the Southern Connector Toll Road and in doing so violated three MARK IV IVHS patents.  MARK IV IVHS has no choice but to pursue legal action at this time to enforce MARK IV IVHS’ intellectual property rights and have the court stop this infringement and enjoin TransCore from committing any future infringement.

"The timing of TransCore’s announcement is likely not coincidental and almost certainly was done with the knowledge it would force the precise action now taken by MARK IV IVHS.  MARK IV IVHS will provide no further comments on this issue on the advice of legal counsel.

"About MARK IV IVHS

"MARK IV IVHS is a global technology leader and innovator of intelligent transportation systems (ITS).  With more than 18 million transponders on-the-road and more than 3,100 lanes equipped, MARK IV IVHS is the largest supplier of electronic toll collection equipment in North America.  MARK IV IVHS has enabled many landmark ITS deployments, including: the world’s first, non-stop, all-electronic toll road (Highway 407 ETR); interoperability between truck electronic preclearance systems and toll collection; and, the E-ZPass® system of the 25 toll authorities who comprise the Interagency Group in the Northeastern United States.  For more information, visit www.ivhs.com END Mark IV statement


Full text of TransCore statement of 2009-03-31

that Mark IV says constitutes announcement of patent infringements:

March 31, 2009 10:43 AM Eastern Daylight Time 
TransCore Proves Alternative Equipment Choice for IAG-Protocol Reader

Provides Additional Path to Interoperability and Next Generation Wireless Toll Collection Technology

GREENVILLE, S.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--TransCore showcases Encompass® 6 IAG “Plug n Play” (PNP) radio frequency identification (RFID) reader system on The Southern Connector toll road, a 16-mile Federal interstate highway in Greenville, S.C., one of two toll roads in the state of South Carolina.

In use over the last 3 months, the Encompass 6 PNP reader, with an accuracy of 99.95 percent, has greatly reduced the violation rates at the lanes in which they are installed compared to lanes that operate with legacy equipment. The Encompass 6 PNP equipment configuration supports both IAG and SeGo protocols, a combination that offers compatibility with tags used in about 95 percent of all electronic toll collection lanes in the United States. The significance of the successful deployment is that Northeast toll authorities, which use IAG-only protocol hardware, now have multiple manufacturing sources.

“As the Southern Connector continues to provide a vital service to South Carolina motorists, we recognized the need to adopt technology that could meet our current capabilities without any reduction in service and provide a path to interoperability, particularly with other toll systems in the Southeast,” said Peter Femia, executive vice president and general manager of the Connector 2000 Association, Inc.

"The Southern Connector, which opened in 2001, was built with private money through a unique public-private partnership. No tax money was used for construction of the road. The Southern Connector is an important component of the development taking place in Southern Greenville County and provides an alternate route to many motorists and truckers seeking to avoid congestion on Interstate Highways 85 and 385. Following 8 years in operation, the Southern Connector has now processed more than 39 million toll transactions. The Connector 2000 Association is the governing body of the Southern Connector and has worked with TransCore since 2001 as the original systems integrator and current maintenance provider for the toll collection system

"After a vehicle collision at one of the toll plazas in 2008 required the replacement of equipment, the Southern Connector deployed the TransCore Plug n Play RFID readers as a direct replacement of the previous RFID hardware to read Palmetto Pass or “PalPass” transponders. Because of the plug and play design of the Encompass 6 reader, there was no need to perform any programming changes to transition to the next generation technology. Interoperability with current equipment and transponders was essential as was the potential for compatibility with electronic toll collection technology used throughout the Southeast from Georgia to Florida and west to Texas.

"About TransCore’s Encompass 6 Plug n Play (PNP) Reader

"TransCore’s Encompass 6 IAG Plug n Play reader system is a modular high speed, multi-protocol 915-MHz radio frequency identification reader system that includes Encompass 6 readers and IAG reader emulators in a single housing. It is a plug and play device providing quick and easy replacement of existing Interagency Group (IAG) readers and requires no modifications to lane controller software or configurations.

"The Encompass 6 IAG PNP reader system features include:
    •    Supports IAG reader functionality
    •    Plug and play installation
    •    Scalable up to eight lanes
    •    Individual processors for lane independence
    •    Dual communications ports for master/slave redundancy
    •    Ethernet and RS–232/422 communications
    •    Hot swappable dual redundant power supplies
    •    Connectivity for remote network monitoring
    •    One million tag buffer on each reader plus buffering on each reader emulator
    •    Mounts in existing reader cabinet or in available TransCore cabinet
    •    Dual IAG/Super eGo® protocol operation
    •    Ability to synchronize with multiple PNP Readers in multi-lane configurations using either wired or GPS-based wireless synchronization

"About TransCore
TransCore’s 70-year heritage supporting the transportation industry spans a range of offerings for the toll, traffic management, airport, parking, access control, rail, intermodal, trucking, and homeland security markets. With products and installations in 46 countries, more than 100 patents worldwide, and pioneering applications of RFID and satellite communications technologies, TransCore's expertise is unparalleled in the markets it serves. TransCore has more than 1,700 employees in 80 locations throughout the world.

"TransCore operates as a unit of Roper Industries. Roper Industries is a market-driven, diversified growth company with trailing twelve month revenues of $2.3 billion, and is a component of the Standard & Poor’s S&P Mid-Cap 400, Fortune 1000, and Russell 1000 Indexes. Roper provides engineered products and solutions for global niche markets, including water, energy, radio frequency and research/medical applications. For more information, visit www.transcore.com or www.roperind.com.

Contacts

TransCore?Barbara Catlin, 972-740-7150? Barbara.catlin@transcore.com? or

The Southern Connector ?Peter Femia, 864-527-2151 END TransCore statement of March 31

TOLLROADSnews 2009-05-20

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