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Topic: Legal News: U.S. Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Patent Trolls

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  1. #1
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    Legal News: U.S. Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Patent Trolls

    Slashdot reports that:
    "Forbes is reporting that the Supreme Court has just limited the power of patent trolls to obtain permanent injunctions against infringers as a matter of course. The court has ruled that the principles of equity apply, meaning that a court considering slapping an injunction on the infringer must consider how much damage is really being done ... which in the case of EBay's Buy It Now feature, isn't much, since the company that owns this so-called patent only has it for the purposes of suing other people.""The high court's decision deals a blow to patent trolls, which are notorious for using the threat of permanent injunction to extort hefty fees in licensing negotiations as well as huge settlements from companies they have accused of infringing. Often, those settlements can be far greater than the value of the infringing technology: Recall the $612.5 million that Canada's Research in Motion forked over to patent-holding company NTP to avoid the shutting down of its popular BlackBerry service."
    This is welcome news courtesy of the US Supreme Court.

    In other patent news, Creative has sued Apple over their iPod interface claiming the popular iPod infringes on its patented Zen media player technology.

  2. #2

    Re: Legal News: U.S. Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Patent Trolls

    Bravo!

    I was waiting for some one of our legal "geniuses" to
    discover what I have asked all along about these "patent
    troll" cases: How can one claim he is in some way damaged
    by an infringement when he has never produced a product,
    licensed the patent, nor ever intended to do so?

    Patent law is specific and clear in punitive declaration, in
    that the "damage" must be financially tangible.

    Patent trolling is predatory and inhibitory entrapment.
    Perhaps a few more case determinations of this kind will
    lead to its extinction.

    David
    www.DavidSosnowski.com
    .

  3. #3
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    Re: Legal News: U.S. Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Patent Trolls

    Patents are only there to deter the unscrupulous and make patent lawyers rich. Patent lawyers are famous for vanity patent publishing. They don't shed a tear when screwing money out of folk who have a genuinly held belief in their creations which have no hope of success.

    I have a plan to scupper them.............Watch this space.....well not this space actually........

    Frank

  4. #4

    Re: Legal News: U.S. Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Patent Trolls

    Patents serve a highly useful purpose in encouraging innovation
    by warranting the efforts of the innovator.

    Unfortunately, the patent office is undermanned on the one hand
    and insufficiently inexpert on the other... thus many of the patents
    granted in complex technologies are invalidly broad.

    Noting this, patent trollers -- firms which have no other purpose
    than to secure or acquire patents and lay in wait for others to violate
    them -- have become something quite beyond a cottage industry of
    themselves.

    In that patent trolls are completely contrary to the intent and
    purpose of patent law (to encourage innovation), they're on very
    shaky legal ground to begin with -- regardless of ethical concerns.
    Their sole raison d'etre is to entrap and pounce on the hapless
    infringer -- without intention of any kind to develop a product,
    license a patent, or in any way advance the prior art.

    Remember we're not talking about some fellow in his basement who
    has had a legitimate patent infringed.

    The typical patent trolling firm is a roomful of unscrupulous lawyers
    with no other purpose than to commit the litigative equivalent of
    armed robbery.

    David
    www.DavidSosnowski.com
    .

  5. #5

    Lightbulb Re: Legal News: U.S. Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Patent Trolls

    Quote Originally Posted by etLux
    Bravo!

    I was waiting for some one of our legal "geniuses" to
    discover what I have asked all along about these "patent
    troll" cases: How can one claim he is in some way damaged
    by an infringement when he has never produced a product,
    licensed the patent, nor ever intended to do so?

    Patent law is specific and clear in punitive declaration, in
    that the "damage" must be financially tangible.

    Patent trolling is predatory and inhibitory entrapment.
    Perhaps a few more case determinations of this kind will
    lead to its extinction.

    David
    www.DavidSosnowski.com
    .
    As the local patent attorney (are there any other patent attorneys on the forum?), perhaps I can shed a little light on the situation.

    First, a patent represents a property claim, just like a deed represents a claim to real property. The difference is that patents cover "intellectual" property rather than houses and soil (and also that patents will expire after a number of years).

    An injunction is simply the equivalent of a trespass action. If somebody decides to park their trailer in the middle of your front yard, you typically have the right to have it hauled away. In the case of patents, it is not as easy to tell when somebody is "parked in your yard", but the property right is similar: you have the right to get them out.

    What if you are not actually using the invention? Actually, it is still completely reasonable to exclude infringers. Suppose you have a product, and invented several ways to make products that might otherwise compete: the law permits you to patent every way of performing the invention that you can think of, and to patent them. You can practice one of the inventions, and use the other patents solely to keep competitors from marketing a competing product (this is actually a fairly common patent strategy). After all, even if you're not living on your property, you still have the right to keep squatters off. Perhaps you are a university professor, and are simply not interested in running a business: don't you still have the right to license your own invention to the company of your choice (or none at all, if you think the invention should not be practiced)?

    And just for fun, let's consider that all the same principles apply to other forms of intellectual property, for example copyright. Under copyright law, you have the right to stop others from making copies of your works of authorship. Suppose that a number of years ago you wrote lyrical love poetry to a woman you dated before meeting your wife, and that she (the prior woman) now intends to publish them against your wishes. An injunction under the copyright law is possibly the only way to prevent that. In the absence of an injunction, you may be entitled to damages (i.e., royalties on the sales), but that doesn't really make it better, does it?

    So what does eBay v. MercExchange say? Mainly that permanent injunctions should not be granted in patent cases automatically, but only after considering the same four factors considered when granting a permanent injunction in any other kind of case. (The factors are (1) irreparable injury, (2) "remedies at law" (e.g., money damages) are inadequate, (3) the balance of hardships favors the patentee, and (4) the injunction is not contrary to the public interest.) You can read the full opinion here.

    It may be that the decision will not make much difference in patent practice, as irreparable injury and lack of adequate remedies at law are considered to be pretty strongly satisfied. Otherwise, you have instances where, for example, the guy parked in the trailer on your front yard gets to stay there (even though he may have to pay some rent), or your old love poems get published (even though you may receive a few bucks in royalties).

    So, what is a patent troll? The term is usually applied to one who holds (or obtains) a patent of questionable validity, and waits to enforce it against a company after it has established a lucrative business. This is actually a fairly hazardous practice, as the troll can easily get burned. A patent owner who tries to enforce an invalid patent can be charged with patent misuse and anti-trust violations, and end up paying damages and attorneys' fees that rival or exceed the amount originally sought.

    Yes, it does sound fairly low on the ethical food chain (and I certainly don't condone it). However, it is hard to draw a line between reasonable and questionably reasonable...

    Grant
    ==============================
    Grant Green ||| www.contrabass.com
    Sarrusophones and other seismic devices

  6. #6

    Re: Legal News: U.S. Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Patent Trolls

    Quote Originally Posted by Hardy Heern
    Patents are only there to deter the unscrupulous and make patent lawyers rich. Patent lawyers are famous for vanity patent publishing. They don't shed a tear when screwing money out of folk who have a genuinly held belief in their creations which have no hope of success.

    I have a plan to scupper them.............Watch this space.....well not this space actually........

    Frank
    Hi Frank,

    Just curious about this one. Ethically, when an inventor came to me (when I was in private practice), I would first discuss with the client what they hoped to do with a patent. There were occassions on which I advised the client that while their invention was probably technically patentable, that it would be difficult or impractical for them to realize any return on it.

    Some people are inventors because they think their idea will make them rich. Some are inventors simply to be an inventor, regardless of any potential profit. If they are aware of the cost and the likely outcome, have they been harmed?

    Grant
    ==============================
    Grant Green ||| www.contrabass.com
    Sarrusophones and other seismic devices

  7. #7

    Re: Legal News: U.S. Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Patent Trolls

    Valid points, Grant, certainly; and well taken from one in
    the profession. Thank you.

    However, rather than all this litigious wrangling, I have
    a far more facile and satisfying solution:

    Let's just shoot 'em.

    My best,

    David
    www.DavidSosnowski.com
    .

  8. #8
    Senior Member rwayland's Avatar
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    Re: Legal News: U.S. Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Patent Trolls

    Quote Originally Posted by etLux
    Valid points, Grant, certainly; and well taken from one in
    the profession. Thank you.

    However, rather than all this litigious wrangling, I have
    a far more facile and satisfying solution:

    Let's just shoot 'em.

    My best,

    David
    www.DavidSosnowski.com
    .
    An eminently satisfactory solution to a multitude of problems! But leave a sufficient number of people still standing that they may hasten and buy a few more of my scores. My sales record is abysmal.

    Richard

  9. #9

    Re: Legal News: U.S. Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Patent Trolls

    Quote Originally Posted by rwayland
    An eminently satisfactory solution to a multitude of problems! But leave a sufficient number of people still standing that they may hasten and buy a few more of my scores. My sales record is abysmal.

    Richard
    By golly, Richard, I think you and I'd get on just fine.

    I find my own scores sell quite well if I don't charge
    for them...

    David
    www.DavidSosnowski.com
    .

  10. #10

    Re: Legal News: U.S. Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Patent Trolls

    Proof that the patent system dramatically needs a reform: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4985410.stm
    Colton J. Provias
    Film Score Composer, Location Sound Mixer, and Sound Editor
    Full-stack Web Developer

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