Welcome to the latest edition of News & Notes for October 21, 2013.
Initially I thought I might make this a monthly column, but it might become bi-monthly instead, or perhaps as I accumulate enough to warrant a full post. I’m also not sure I’m thrilled with the title News & Notes, so I’m open to suggestions. Of course, if you have some interesting news to share you can always send me an e-mail message.
Without further ado, in this edition:
- Soverain Software Files Certiorari Petition with Supreme Court
- Acacia Research Re-Branding Launch
- Survey Shows Majority Not Familiar with New gTLDs
- University of South Florida Launches Revenue Incentive Patent Cost Sharing Program
- Mark Cuban Cleared of Insider Trading
- European Patent Convention Celebrates 40 Years
- John Marshall Law School Hosts IP Symposium – November 8, 2013
- ALS Goes Into Remission with Steroid Treatments?
- Trade Secret Hacking Case Results in 5 Year Prison Term
Soverain Software Files Certiorari Petition with Supreme Court
Soverain Software LLC recently filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday, seeking review of the Federal Circuit’s decision in the appeal of Soverain Software LLC v. Newegg Inc., case no. 2011-1009. Last month I predicted this was likely after noticing that Seth Waxman was listed as the lead attorney for Soverain Software. See Is Soverain Software Supreme Court Bound. In my opinion Seth Waxman is one the top Supreme Court advocates for patent issues. In fact, I have repeatedly said that if you are taking a patent case to the Supreme Court and you don’t at least inquire about his availability and interest you are making a grave mistake. He has prevailed for the patentee in both of the last two pro-patent Supreme Court decisions.
The decision now on petition for cert. to the Supreme court reversed a district court’s judgment of the validity of the asserted claims of three patents on the grounds of obviousness and vacated a judgment of infringement and damages.
The patents at issue originate from applications filed in 1994 and 1995 at the dawn of the Internet age, before the launches of Amazon, eBay, Internet Explorer and Google. Soverain is represented by the firms of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, and Sterne Kessler Goldstein & Fox PLLC.
Acacia Research Re-Branding Launch
On October 16, 2013, Acacia Research Corporation (NASDAQ:ACTG) announced the formal launch of its evolved brand and website after detailed industry analysis and internal review.
Matthew Vella, CEO of Acacia Research Corporation, states, “While we are extremely proud of our roots, it was imperative to address the evolution of our brand and more importantly, how we communicate externally. The general public, our stakeholders and industry analysts must have a more transparent view into our patent assets and business opportunities. This view includes a detailed explanation of our processes, capabilities and a perspective on the overall IP landscape.”
Acacia CEO Matthew Vella concludes, “We strive to present inventors and organizations with opportunities that unleash the full potential of their patents and patent portfolios.”
Acacia is already the most open of patent licensing entities given that they are publicly traded and report quarterly and yearly to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Thus, I have to believe that t his new initiative to better tell the Acacia story to the general public is an effort to rebut the popular misconception that licensing entities such as Acacia do nothing to help individual inventors or foster overall innovation.
In other Acacia news, the company announced on October 15, 2013, that a subsidiary has acquired 13 US and foreign patents and applications on fluorescence microscopy, and that another subsidiary has acquired a patent portfolio relating to power managed security system technology. Similarly, Acacia also announced on October 14, 2013, that a subsidiary has acquired a patent portfolio relating to professional and social media networking technology. Also announced on the 14th was an Exclusive License Agreement to over 40 US Patents related to intelligent beverage dispensing devices and acquisition of a patent portfolio of over 20 US Patents and applications relating to post market sales data, multiple coordinated viewing devices and progressive deletion.
Survey Shows Majority Not Familiar with New gTLDs
Sedo recently published the results of research into whether those that work in the advertising and marketing industry (or their clients) are aware of the pending launch of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) in 2013 – and whether they plan to take advantage of these new web addresses.
More than 360 individuals responsible for the advertising or marketing programs at their companies, or who work at advertising or marketing firms, were surveyed in August 2013, revealing that:
- 54 percent were unaware that new gTLDs will be introduced this year;
- 62 percent felt that the introduction of these new web addresses would make the internet more confusing to navigate;
- 64 percent believed that the use and adoption of new gTLDs would be ultimately successful, despite the initial confusion they may cause;
- 35 percent said that the main advantage of new gTLDs would be an increased ability to secure a memorable website address, while 28 percent said that they would be persuaded to purchase one of these new web addresses for this very reason.
Following approval by the Internet’s governing body, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the first new web addresses will become available for public use in late-2013, with the potential for more to be introduced over the following years. They will include extensions that are brand specific such as .Nike or .AOL, those that are geographically rooted such as .Boston and those that are truly generic, such as .music, .home or .inc.
University of South Florida Launches Revenue Incentive Patent Cost Sharing Program
The University of South Florida in Tampa (USF) has announced a unique Revenue Incentive Patent Cost Sharing Program for their university inventors.
The one-year pilot program provides USF innovators with an incentive to invest in the future of the inventions resulting from their research. The incentive will give researchers the opportunity to increase their share of income generated from the licensing of their inventions. Participating Inventors would pay twenty five percent (25%) of all direct costs incurred by the USF System in protecting, maintaining, licensing, and preserving patent rights in exchange for a five percent (5%) increase in Net Revenue for eligible inventions.
While creative, I don’t know how many University inventors will find this incentive to be worth pursuing. 25% of the cost of protecting, maintaining, licensing and preserving patent rights can really ad up, and only for an additional 5%. For the right innovative advance it might make sense, but University technology is typically so ahead of the commercialization curve that it is quite speculative. Time will tell whether this model works to incentivize University inventors to share in patent costs.
Mark Cuban Cleared of Insider Trading
While not a patent or intellectual property story per se, Mark Cuban, the flamboyant Texas billionaire, Shark Tank star and patent-hater was recently cleared of insider-trading charges. The charges had been filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over his sale of stock in the now-defunct Internet search engine company Mamma.com.
The unanimous jury verdict saved Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, from possible civil penalties totaling approximately $2.5 million based on his sale of 600,000 shares of Mamma.com stock in June 2004. The lawsuit originally was dismissed in July 2009 before being revived by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in September 2010.
Dallas attorney Thomas M. Melsheimer of Fish & Richardson served as Mr. Cuban’s lead counsel during the three-week trial before Chief Judge Sidney Fitzwater in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Mr. Cuban also was represented by Stephen A. Best of Brown Rudnick in Washington, D.C.; Christopher J. Clark of Latham & Watkins in New York; Lyle Robertsand George Anhang of Cooley LLP in Washington, D.C.; and Scott C. Thomas and Natalie L. Arbaugh from the Dallas office of Fish.
European Patent Convention Celebrates 40 Years
On October 5, 2013, the European Patent Office marked the 40th anniversary of the European Patent Convention (EPC) with a special ceremonial celebration, which was attended by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council. On 5 October 1973, the EPC was signed in Munich, establishing a legal framework for the transnational grant of patents in Europe.
“After forty years, we can say that the EPC, which created the European Patent Office, has provided the ground for building a real success, not only from a technical point of view but also in its European and political dimension,” declared EPO President Benoît Battistelli. “The high quality of products and services delivered by the EPO is acknowledged across the globe. Ever since it was set up, the EPO has played an active role in fostering innovation and has given Europe a strong voice in its ongoing dialogue with the other world leaders in technology,” he added.
The occasion also marked another opportunity for supporters to promote the unitary patent and Unified Patent Court. “The unitary patent marks the end of a forty-year odyssey and opens new horizons for European entrepreneurs,” said Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council.
John Marshall Law School Hosts IP Symposium – November 8, 2013
The Review of Intellectual Property Law at John Marshall Law School in Chicago will be hosting an all day symposium on November 8, 2013. The topic is “The Intersection of IP and Health Policy.” There is no charge for John Marshall law students. The cost for other law students is $20 and the cost for all others is $50. The event will take place from 9am to 5:30pm, with a concluding reception from 4:30pm to 5:30pm. Patent Doc Kevin Noonan, will be the lunch speaker.
ALS Goes Into Remission with Steroid Treatments?
Paul Aiken, the long-time executive director of the Authors Guild, announced today that he has early-stage Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a fatal illness also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease
Aiken, 54, said his ALS symptoms in his legs went into remission after he was treated on August 7 with the fourth in a series of epidural steroid injections he received for lower back and leg pain. Just two days earlier, doctors at Weill Cornell Peripheral Neuropathy Center had found fasciculations, involuntary muscular twitches that are symptomatic of ALS, in his legs, arm, back and tongue during EMG tests.
While researching whether ALS can be treated with steroids, Aiken found nothing very useful on PubMed, the online medical database. On Saturday, August 24, however, he did a general web search for “steroids and ALS” and found a blog post by Dr. Herman E. Schmid, age 84, of Winston-Salem, NC. Dr. Schmid claimed in that post to have put ALS into remission with steroids. After speaking to Dr. Schmid the following Tuesday, Aiken began taking oral steroids.
“Dr. Schmid returned my call from his medical offices,” Aiken said. “He vividly described his symptoms and precise treatment, sharing his medical history going back 52 years, to his very first dose of oral steroids in 1962. He emphasized that he’s in remission; that he isn’t cured. His fasciculations continue at a low level to this day.”
Aiken said he expects skepticism about the remission of his symptoms and will begin posting pertinent medical records at nequals2.com to help answer questions. He admits he has no way of knowing whether his remission will continue or whether he has some odd strain of ALS, so his treatment might not apply to others.
Trade Secret Hacking Case Results in 5 Year Prison Term
A civil trade secret theft case initiated by Dallas attorney Matthew Yarbrough has resulted in a five-year federal prison term for a former North Texas CEO following his conviction for computer hacking.
Michael Musacchio, 62, was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison on Sept. 5 by U.S. District Court Judge Jorge A. Solis of Dallas. Mr. Musacchio was convicted of hacking the computer system maintained by his former employer, Exel Transportation Services, and using related trade secrets at a new company, Total Transportation Services LLC of Frisco.
The criminal case was based on a trade secret theft lawsuit filed back in 2006 by Mr. Yarbrough, which resulted in a $10 million settlement against Total Transportation Services.