Sons of inventor drop patent suit against Disney over MagicBand device

By John Sammon | Jul 18, 2017

BEAUMONT – The sons of a Texas inventor who challenged Disney Parks and Resorts for allegedly infringing their father’s patented wireless connecting system without authorization have dropped voluntarily their suit against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

U.S. District Court Judge Roy Payne for the Eastern District of Texas dismissed the suit with prejudice, meaning the plaintiffs are barred from bringing another action on the same claim. The case was ended on July 4 after the plaintiffs James P. Freeny, Charles C. Freeny III and Brian E. Freeny filed a notice of voluntary dismissal of the case in June. The brothers had accused Disney of infringing on their father Charles Freeny Jr.’s patent 6,490,443. The patent was issued in 2002. The elder Freeny is deceased.

Freeny’s patent related to a portable wireless connecting device that transmits and receives radio signals to perform functions. The Freeny brothers had contended that Disney improperly used the technology in the development of its MagicBand device, used by guests to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, who wear it like a wristwatch. The band allows guests to gain automatic entrance to the park, access to hotel rooms and check-in at rides where priority access is used.

“For example, upon receiving a request authorization code ... from a MagicBand via an RFID signal, a short-range reader device located at an entry station at Walt Disney World Resort can confirm that the user of the MagicBand is authorized to enter that location in the resort and allow entry into that location,” the original complaint read.    

The Freenys alleged that the use of the MagicBand by Disney constituted a “proximity authorization” unit as described in the patent, which allowed the user to acquire services at the park through the use of communicated authorization codes.

The Freeny brothers demanded a jury trial in February.

If the case had gone to trial, the plaintiffs would have requested damages, costs, expenses and pre- and post-judgment interest for the '443 patent including attorney fees. 

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts was represented in the case by its own attorney Jon Chow.

The Freeny brothers were represented by the patent attorney law firm of Banys PC based in Palo Alto, California, and Kurt Truelove of Truelove Law Firm PLLC of Marshall.        

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