TikTok’s Owner Sued for Patent Infringement

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November 27, 2022

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(MARSHALL, Texas) – A Texas-based technology company, Advanced Coding Technologies LLC (ACT), is suing Bytedance Ltd., owner of TikTok, for alleged patent infringement via the app, according to a suit filed in April 2022. 

ACT, the owner of several audio and video-processing patents, alleges that Bytedance, a China-based social media company, infringed on three patents with its TikTok social media user interface, according to the suit filed on April 29 in Texas Eastern District Court. 

Bytedance Ltd. acquired TikTok, then Musical.ly, in November 2017 for $1 billion. In 2022, Bloomberg put TikTok’s estimated worth at more than $275 billion. 

ACT claims TikTok infringed on its patents through its video playback feature and tools provided to users to create their own video content for the social media platform. They are seeking a trial and damages to be determined at trial. 

ACT’s complaint alleges that Bytedance, upon acquiring TikTok in 2017, coded its app in a way that directly copied ACT features created and patented years prior. Images in the complaint show where the alleged infringement took place. One example illustrates how the timestamps within the audio sync up to the timestamps of the recorded video. Another illustration shows how the duration of video clips is automatically altered when the playback speed is altered. A third example shows how videos “pre-load” the first frame of the video before playback actually begins.

In October 2022, ACT amended the complaint to include Bytedance Pte. Ltd. and TikTok Pte. Ltd., as they are “in the business of selling the TikTok application in the United States.” These companies are based in Singapore. There are now three defendants in this case. 

ACT claims the defendants have failed to honor its patents “by making, using, selling, offering to sell, and/or importing the TikTok app that infringes these patents.” ACT is seeking unspecified damages in an amount to be proven at trial as a result of the patent infringement.

Defense counsel, listed as Fish & Richardson in court documents, was contacted for comment but declined to comment on pending litigation.

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