The Newest Patent Litigation Venue: District of Amazon Federal Court

By Paul Morinville
May 2, 2019

“I’m astonished to have to admit that the U.S. patent system is so fundamentally broken on so many levels that the DAFC may be the only venue available to most inventors.”

https://depositphotos.com/40145553/stock-photo-amazon-app-icon.htmlIn yet another pathetic result of the U.S. government crashing the patent system, Amazon announces it is a patent infringement court. I guess we can call it the District of Amazon Federal Court (DAFC). They claim a cheaper, faster alternative to traditional patent lawsuits. Ring a bell?  The last time I heard that we got the PTAB.

This irony is judiciously served. First, Amazon used the patent system to differentiate themselves from their competitors with the one-click patent, thus gaining market share. Then the U.S. government crashed the patent system so that no small inventor or startup could challenge Amazon with improved technologies. With no challengers, Amazon monopolized.

An Impressive Defeat of a Fictional Problem

You must applaud Amazon and the rest of the big tech bullies. It is an amazing feat for this gang of monopolies to make up a false narrative that convinces the entire U.S. government that fictional patent trolls are destroying the world with fictional bad patents. And it is an even greater feat to convince the government to legislate (in Congress, in the USPTO and in the courts) that any patent capable of challenging the core technology of any big tech business never gets issued. And if it somehow slips through the USPTO, the government invalidates it. Now the whole gang is safe from the fictional creatures they themselves created.

Today, inventions in Amazon’s technology space are not patentable subject matter under Section 101. (Congress says they would like to fix that, but it they plan to make it worse.)  Instead, inventions that could create competition to Amazon are deemed abstract ideas. Abstract in the sense that they cannot be patented, but not abstract in the sense that they generate billions of dollars in annual revenue and underpin the largest monopolies to ever inhabit earth.

While nobody can define an abstract idea, over 64% of inventions challenged as abstract ideas are invalidated by the courts as abstract ideas. Countless more are never granted patent protection. As a result, Amazon’s monopoly is untouchable by creative destruction served by innovative startups. Amazon is permitted to rampantly steal the inventions of small inventors and startups, thus running them out of business. The government’s actions that destroyed the patent system are perpetuating Amazon’s monopoly.

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Amazon Gallops to Its Own Rescue

Now Amazon, a renowned world expert at stealing patented inventions, gallops to the rescue of small companies by replacing the U.S. government as the venue to fight patent infringement battles in the United States. They claim they can do it faster and cheaper. The sad truth is that Amazon can perform as a patent court due to their scale and the market control they exert, and they will replace the federal courts in most cases.

Amazon is a market monopoly with complete control of who can and cannot sell in their market. In the patent world, an injunction removes an infringer from the market of the country where the injunction is granted. In Amazon’s world, denying an infringer access to their market removes them from Amazon’s market, which is akin to an injunction. In the patent world, invalidating a patent allows others to copy it. In Amazon’s world, permitting an infringer to access the market is akin to invalidating the patent because it allows others to copy it.

Portrait of a Broken System

But will the DAFC be a faster and cheaper alternative to the U.S. government’s various courts and tribunals?  The PTAB is not cheap and not fast even though politicians and big tech lobbyists said it would when they made it law in the Leahy/Smith American Invents Act of 2011. In fact, a single PTAB challenge will burn three to five years of your patent’s life along with about $500,000. If you are gang tackled, just multiply those numbers by the number of members in the gang.

The federal courts are embarrassingly long and prohibitively expensive. In Josh Malone’s case, he’s spent around $20 million dollars over four years and is still not done. He will fight for several more years and spend millions more just to get paid damages already awarded to him. In the end, he will spend millions of dollars more than he receives in damages. The federal courts are truly a scam.

When deciding whether to defend a patent, you engage in a risk/reward analysis. The likelihood of winning, the amount invested, the time it takes to get investment returned, and the amount returned, all factor into your decision.

If you are like most inventors and startups, you need contingent attorneys and investors. They are paid around half of damages awarded to you. Most lawyers and investors estimate investment into the suit to be somewhere around $3 million. It could easily go above that, so sometimes they price it higher, especially if the infringer is a big tech company known to litigate frivolously.

Because lawyers and investors take half of damages, potential damages must be more than double the investment to earn a profit. Most will require that potential damages of least 5X estimated investment. Many put the number at 10X due to the number of years it takes to get a return and the extraordinary invalidation rates at the PTAB and under Section 101’s abstract idea. But we can take the low numbers for our example: if the number is 5X and with $3 million invested then potential damages must be $30 million.

Prior to eBay v. MercExchange, which eliminated most injunctive relief, damages were determined by the market because an injunction enabled a buyer and a seller to arrive at a market price. Now damages are determined by a liberal arts major in a robe performing some sort of voodoo. Lawyers and investors make their best guess at a percentage of infringing sales revenue that will be awarded as damages, perhaps 1% to 3%. So, putting it all together, returning a $3 million investment at a profit requires a damages award of $30 million, which is 3% of total infringing sales revenue, therefore infringing sales revenue must be $1 billion.

Very few products bring in a billion dollars in sales. So, most inventions cannot justify defending a patent in the federal courts. But since the DAFC charges only $4,000 per infringer, I’m astonished to have to admit that the U.S. patent system is so fundamentally broken on so many levels that the DAFC may be the only venue available to most inventors.

The Dangers of the DAFC

However, there are some very real problems with a private monopoly adjudicating patent disputes. The DAFC is obviously beholden to the interests of Amazon. The judges (I think we can now call Amazon attorneys judges; after all, we call USPTO employees judges) are Amazon employees.*

It is in Amazon’s interest to have infringing products on their captured market because it increases consumer choice and lowers prices, which keeps consumers coming back. There is incentive for DAFC to delay adjudication for as long as possible to keep all products selling on their captured market. The incentive is to invalidate patents by not finding infringement and therefore allowing all infringing products into their market.

Amazon answers to consumers who buy products in their closed market, and to its vendors who provide the products for their consumers to buy. No doubt there will be conflicts between vendors when one accuses another of patent infringement. These conflicts will rise through the legal department to upper management where decisions will be made for the benefit of Amazon—not the inventor, not the integrity of the patent system.

There is no due process at the DAFC. There is no independence, no jury, no rules, and no appeal. There will be no justice, no fairness, no equity. Decisions will be made in the interest of Amazon and Amazon alone.

What a pathetic mess. It would be amusing if it were not so destructive to our economy and national security. Nobody in Congress really wants to fix it. They say the words that make it seem like they want to fix it, but they put forth changes that will make it even worse. This is a very sad era for America and a very sad era for Congress.

 

*It is unclear if Amazon is using its own attorneys or is hiring outside attorneys, but that is a distinction without a difference.  Whether the attorney is a direct employee or contracted, the client is still Amazon.

 

The Author

Paul Morinville

Paul Morinville is the Founder and former President of U.S. Inventor, Inc., which is an inventor organization in Washington D.C. that advocates strong patent protection for inventors and startups. Paul has been as executive at multiple technology startups including computer hardware, enterprise middleware and video compression software in the U.S. and China, and now medical devices.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 23 Comments comments.

  1. Anon May 2, 2019 8:02 pm

    First: Be Evil.

  2. Patent Investor May 2, 2019 11:21 pm

    Several times while reading this article I had to recheck the date to make sure it wasn’t April 1st!

  3. EG May 3, 2019 8:13 am

    Hey Paul,

    Spot on. The “patent troll” narrative is as much mythology as the fictional creature itself. SCOTUS in particular should be embarrassed for buying into such malarkey having no basis in fact.

  4. Concerned May 3, 2019 9:01 am

    Every truth in this article is routine, well understood and conventional.

    Motion denied.

  5. Jason Lee May 3, 2019 9:25 am

    This is what happens when you have a corporatocracy. Companies like Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google donate millions to both political parties and invest in Lobbyists to create bills that serve in their best interest and not the peoples best interest.

    Politicians are nothing more then prostitutes for the almighty dollar. The rules of law that were created to keep a balanced playing field no longer exists. I would not be surprised to see companies like Amazon and Apple create their own police force and and truly put an end to anyone that stands up in their plutocracy.

    Section 101 was created to serve the elites just like ebay, alice, mayo and tc heartland rulings were created to kill off all legal rights for patent holders. America is in a deep sleep and have sold their souls to the devil.

    The Patent Troll narrative was the boogeyman created by Silicon Valley so they could kill off what ever rights a patent holders had left. Google donated millions to Obama to get into office, Obama paid back that favor by putting in one of Googles head lawyer in IPs to run the USPTO Ms. Michelle Lee did a fantastic job, she helped bring in the Section 101 and helped craft the AIA Act and the PTAB that staked patent judges against patent holders in favor of patent infringers.

    The American Patent system is DEAD America is to addicted to money and will not do the right thing in fear of what Silicon Valley will do or fear that the stocks will go down in value. New investors will be looking to Germany and China to file for a patent, this will be the only way to fight Silicon Valley as sales injunctions preventing products from being produced and sold if they have infringed on a patent holders rights. Sad part is sales bans and injunctions no longer exists in America because Silicon Valley took away these rights so they could much easily steal a patent from inventors and patent holders with out paying for a licence. Its no coincidence Apple Google and Amazons stock have skyrocketed since 2011 as all the anti patent rules were introduced.

    People have false hope in the resurrected Senate Judiciary Committee formation of Intellectual Property (IP) Subcommittee. The Senate Judiciary has not had an active IP Subcommittee for decades because Silicon Valley killed it off. The heads of the Subcommittee Sen Tilis (Rep) Big Pharma backer and Sen Coons (Dem) have the right idea in fixing patents but the others that sit on the committee like; Patrick Leahy (VT) Dick Durbin (IL) Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) Richard Blumenthal (CT) Mazie Hirono (HI) Kamala Harris (CA)
    Lindsey Graham (SC) Lindsey Graham, Chuck Grassley (IA)John Cornyn (TX)Michael S. Lee (UT)Ben Sasse (NE)Mike Crapo (ID)Marsha Blackburn (TN) HAVE ALL BEEN BOUGHT OUT BY SILICON VALLEY.

    This new Subcommittee will carve out a section for Big Pharma and will leave the patent holder high and dry. Germany and China will not just be the place to file for patent protection but also the place to open up a new business.

    Today’s America is a Monopoly that looks after it self, the rules only apply to the elites. What Apple did to Qualcomm is deplorable and Apple should be punished with major penalties. We know thats not going to happen because Apple have over $500BILLION in cash and owns $52.6 BILLION in US Treasurys — more than many major countries. America sold it self out and its people to corporations. Its time to move some where else where they provide patent protection and investment opportunity to grow your business. Its game over for America. If Abraham Lincoln could see what they have done to his beloved patent system there would have been hell to pay. Mr. Lincoln was the only US president to hold a patent related to a invention to lift boats over shoals and obstructions in a river. In today’s America President Lincoln would have been denied such a patent through Sec 101. Good by America your addiction to money like opioids will be your end.

  6. TFCFM May 3, 2019 9:46 am

    It seems to me that the author confuses a simple (even if perhaps fairly criticized as “simplistic”) alternative dispute resolution system for “adjudication.”

    Furthermore, it seems to me that this proposed system (neutral, third-party lawyer calls “infringement-or-no” and keeps the loser’s deposit) is a boon to the small patent-holders the author seems to desire to support:

    1. For a $4000 deposit (refunded if successful), a patent-holder can get Amazon sales of an accused-infringing product halted.

    2. Whether or not the patent-holder (and/or the accused infringer) participate in the program, all ordinary routes for adjudicating a patent dispute remain available.

    What am I missing?

  7. Anon May 3, 2019 11:41 am

    What is the mechanism of enforcement for such an alternative dispute resolution system?

    Let’s say Amazon and a small entity patent holder DO go the route of this mechanism.

    IF Amazon wins**, then their impact is de minimus.
    IF Amazon loses, they turn around and tell the small entity patent holder to pound salt. That they lose a 4,000 amount is also de minimus, as the “loss” has no real legal effect on the underlying matter (the alternative resolution is simply not binding in any court of law on the merits of the matter).

    What am I missing?

    **and yes, I have held back comment on the likelihood of Amazon winning in their own set-up system….

    Actually, the above comments do not reflect the actuality of the set-up, as Amazon is NOT the entity that would be in the cross-hairs.

    What this IS is a mechanism such that Amazon is itself inoculated against ANY culpability of HAVING the marketplace in which infringement may occur.

    Amazon wins NO MATTER WHO wins the decision in its new system, mainly because what this does is put the “fight” at a safe distance away from Amazon. Note that the “worst” of this for Amazon is something that they would have to do anyway (remove the offending product from their market). There is NO penalty whatsoever for Amazon in having the market in the first place. There is NO “vetting” by Amazon of anyone or anything that Amazon enables to BE in Amazon’s market.

    “What am I missing?” becomes the classic audience member for the act of a magician: eyes averted from what is actually going on and Amazon “escaping” any actual liability for the effects of its own market-creation.

  8. Greg DeLassus May 3, 2019 11:52 am

    @6 Whether or not the patent-holder (and/or the accused infringer) participate in the program, all ordinary routes for adjudicating a patent dispute remain available.

    This is not really clear to me from the article. I suppose that if one is free to bring a suit in court after losing the Amazon “adjudication,” then you are correct that the Amazon system seems largely unobjectionable. That said, I would be surprised if the terms of agreement for participating in the Amazon “adjudication” permit a losing party to file suit afterward. I would expect Amazon to include terms in which the patentee agrees to waive the right to sue (or at least to seek an injunction) if the patentee loses. After all, Amazon wants to minimize disruptions in its market and its supply chains.

    In any event, we need to see the details of the agreement to participate before we can know that your #2 characterization of the process is accurate.

  9. Patent Investor May 3, 2019 12:03 pm

    TFCFM,

    What you are “missing” is the simple fact that Amazon has NO loyalties to sellers, buyers, contractors, or employees. Amazon, like almost every other big business in America has only loyalty to itself and the bottom line. All else be damned in the end. I actually find it really hard to believe that any thinking American can “miss” that point. It is well ingrained into our society by now.

  10. Paul Morinville May 3, 2019 12:10 pm

    TFCFM @6. If either party takes the case to a real court, do you think that a decision by an Amazon “judge” will be presented as evidence to shore up a position? If so, will the real court take that decision into consideration when making its decision?

    Do you think that an Amazon “judge” will be impartial? Or will they instead make decisions in the interest of Amazon?

    Would you agree that the real problem is not Amazon, but the incredible costs and time burned in federal courts? If so, would you help drive legislation to fix the real courts?

    Should Amazon be considered the infringer when they allow infringing products on their market? After all, patent law says that if you sell it, you are infringing, and Amazon is obviously selling it.

  11. PTO-Indentured May 3, 2019 12:29 pm

    Caring enough – to ensure the American Inventor – gets the very least

    Like magic, the ‘have / have not’ double-standard perpetuated by the courts, congress and the PTO, succeeds to an extent that a deception is deployed. The magic equation: diverted attention (truth compromised) gets the magic outcome.

    Consider the irony of the patent troll deception — in view of proportionality: even if the patent troll myth — an intended / connived deception — had truly had any basis in reality (never adequately substantiated), the financial gains of the lowly intermediary would be a pale imitation of the unprecedented gains directly attributable to the efficient infringers’ (intended / connived ‘magic’) grab-fest — still on-going. The courts, congress and the PTO were all fooled by this — intentional attention-diverting — distraction. They are all still being fooled. Voila! Like magic.

    Note that none of this could have possibly prevailed without: truth being the primary victim, blinding opportunities to adjust to checks and balances. The annihilation of the American Inventor profession, could have (over a decade span) served as the ‘canary in the coal mine’, with blatant signals things were awry, amiss, ‘life-threatening’. A disparate amassing of revenues by no more than a handful of companies/beneficiaries on trillion-dollar trajectories (way beyond the reach of mere trolls) could also have sufficed. Or the ironic, exposing of each of the few doted-on trillion-track co.s, now revealing their being naked of a much-needed innovation, could also serve. But no, such evident benchmarks have unfathomably been kept at bay.

    Justice can be no better than the truth on which it relies: To the extent that they have been and remain, unable to see, or unwilling to consider, the above (and this article’s) truths — whether a result of ‘sleight of hand’ or not — the courts, congress and the PTO will also keep justice at bay.

    Thank you Paul, for your continued efforts in keeping truth / reality in focus, in the forefront. The stakes are enormous, the loss has been enormous, and the still on-going ‘double standard’ consequences enormous.

    Thank you also Director Iancu for your continued efforts, such as those calling on the CAFC to take effective action in resolving patent related problems, posted in another important IPW blog published today.

    P.S. TFCFM @6 ‘What am I missing?’

    The obvious conflict of interest in the event that it is Amazon, a plaintiff is legitimately accusing of infringement.

  12. SVI May 3, 2019 12:43 pm

    @TFCFM #6 “What am I missing.”

    You’re missing that Amazon is making itself judge, jury and executioner of patents and infringement. And that, as a patent holder and corporate entity, it is innately biased.

  13. Kevin R. May 4, 2019 11:00 am

    I disagree that this alternative dispute resolution experiment by a private company is a symptom of the patent system issues, let alone a big problem. This “DAFC” does not preclude litigation. It is analogous to YouTube and Facebook analyzing DMCA takedowns where people might report IP abuse often or without a valid claim. I, too, would like more clarity on who the attorney-arbitrators are, but it seems like they are separate and have to essentially evaluate a claim chart. Amazon appears to be taking steps to distance themselves from the decision as part of their shield from potential liability (e.g., the attorney gets the $4k fee from a party, held in escrow). The burden seems higher for the seller: if the patentee puts up $4000, the seller has to match it within X days or take the product down. Transparency will be the key in its success. We may never see rules or stats but the stakes are not very high, the attorneys appear independent from Amazon, and patent litigation is still an always option.

    If we are champions of property rights on IP, I don’t see how we can criticize a private company for organizing arbitration. This is not the harbinger of patent hell.

  14. Tech Inventor May 4, 2019 1:47 pm

    Interesting approach. How fast do you think it will take Amazon to file a PTAB claim if I was to pay $4,000 and then file a claim with DAFC that Amazon Echo and all other Alexa devices are infringing upon at least one of my patent.

    Will hell freeze over before Amazon removes the product…..

  15. Enough Already! May 4, 2019 5:26 pm

    To US Congress. Obviously, our patent system is broken…your constituents are so frustrated now that a vigilante is usurping the law of the land to implement an alternative form of “justice” to respond to public criticism…it also just happens to be one of the entities that conspired with you to undermine the system via the corrupted campaign finance contribution system, upheld by no other than the SCOTUS.

    Shame on you all, at the expense of the Amercan people and our way of life!

  16. Benny May 5, 2019 2:17 am

    “They are paid around half of damages awarded to you. Most lawyers and investors estimate investment into the suit to be somewhere around $3 million…”

    There you have the financial incentive for the PTAB. It is not in the interest of these lawyers that the PTAB disappear, as long as it is the source of their income.

  17. Paul Morinville May 5, 2019 9:09 am

    Benny, @14. I agree. Too much money for the lawyers. And too much money for the politicians. It will not get fixed until China hacks an aircraft carrier and beaches it. But by then, it’s too late.

  18. Jason Lee May 6, 2019 7:50 am

    @Benny if they got rid of the PTAB patent law suits that get killed off for $3 to $5 million could be getting paid 100s of millions even billions in infringement penalties for stealing a patent. Lawyers are getting the short end of the stick while Sillicon Valley hordes all the patent royalties theft to them selves, the rules of law do not apply anymore. Apple has over $500 Billion in cash and fight tooth and nail to keep every penny while they continue to steal patents and use the PTAB as their personal body guard. It’s criminal.

  19. TFCFM May 6, 2019 9:48 am

    To the extent there were any credible replies* to my original message (#6 in this conversation), they seem to focus on an apparent misunderstanding of the proposed system.

    I do not understand the proposed dispute-resolution system to be offered as a way to “decide” disputes in which Amazon itself is a party, but rather to be one by which Amazon will make “continue-posting-seller’s-offer or block-seller’s-offer” decisions in disputes between its sellers and folks who claim that a seller’s offer to sell a product infringes a third party’s patent.

    Cases like _Milo & Gabby, LLC v. Amazon.com_ seem to clearly establish that, at least in situations in which Amazon acts as a neutral, third-party marketplace, Amazon is not a “seller” (and therefore not liable) for sales of goods which are accused of infringing a patent.

    Thus, Amazon doesn’t *have to* do anything when a third party accuses an Amazon seller of infringing the third party’s patent. Presumably, if the patentee offered *some* (as-yet unidentified by any court) level of undeniable proof to Amazon that their patent was being infringed on an on-going basis and that the patent is unquestionably valid, some liability to Amazon could be imagined. Understandably, Amazon doesn’t want to get in the position of examining the patent-related assertions of every cracked pot with an e-mail account. This program seems to me a reasonable compromise.

    I’d also want more details before endorsing the system, but the system seems basically fair to me. Assuming (a detail I’d want) a neutral attorney making the call, making:

    i) the patentee put up a small-but-not-trivial amount of money to pull a listing and

    ii) the seller put up the same small-but-not-trivial amount of money to dispute it

    seems to me likely to eliminate baseless and low-value disputes and give Amazon an at-least-minimally-reliable basis for making its block-seller’s-offer / don’t-block-seller’s-offer call. Assuming (again, more detail please) that an aggrieved member of the pair retains all adjudicative options it had in the absence of the system, there seems little or no harm to the pair.

    As for Amazon using the mechanism to “shield” itself from claims of infringement (assuming Amazon does not exempt itself from the process), I have difficulty imagining a patentee who believes Amazon is infringing, yet who gives Amazon $4K to decide whether Amazon itself is infringing. Any patentee foolish enough to do so would be rightly be soon parted from his money.

    If “Trump Derangement Syndrome” (so frequently manifested in the comments — even to utterly Trump-unrelated articles — in the Washington Post, where I more often comment) has an analog in the patent world, it surely is the Big Tech Is The Root Of All Evil bias of the articles and comments in this blog.

    *Note: I did not number variations on, “Oooohhh! I HATES me that there Amazon!” among “credible” replies.

  20. Anon May 6, 2019 11:17 am

    They say that the best lies contain a kernel of truth.

    So it is yet again that I read a post by our new community member TFCFM and find myself agreeing in part and disagreeing in whole.

    While certainly there have been cases which “excuse” the market provider from any culpability of having a “hand” in the sales within that market, such is NOT the vector that the law (and the larger context of market-CONTROL) places the context of this article.

    TFCFM’s premise “sounds” fair and good, but it is simply a premise that is too wobbly to stand critical review.

    Further kernels are present in that “of course, actual adjudicatory function should be truly neutral.” No one can argue with a “Mom and Apple Pie” type of statement like that. Except, even TFCFM belies that view with his PT Barnum like “let the f00l be separated from his money” rightly be soon parted from his money put-down.

    Of course, there is plenty of “eyes-closed” I see nothing wrong, let’s-not-look-closer-at-Amazon’s-emerging-difficulties here (coupled with his attempted dismissal of that point).

    Lastly, another tactic seen here (and one that is only far too often seen elsewhere) is the attempted political denigration (also known as ‘one-bucketing”) between those speaking out for stronger patent rights and the term used by TFCFM of “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” There is ZERO validity in this type of ad hominem attack, and quite in fact, this type of attack diminishes ANY attempted point by TFCFM.

    It is beyond silly to attempt to ignore the plain facts that Efficient Infringement (and the players that engage in that philosophy) are very much real. TFCFM attempts to turn a blind eye to such reality, and does so in a combination of half-truths and ad hominem that has no place in the discussion at point.

  21. TFCFM May 7, 2019 9:18 am

    @ Anon

    ???

    None of your comments (except perhaps regarding the name-calling; shame on me) appear to respond to any point I raised.

    The mechanism the author of the article comments upon appears to be a simple ADR tool. No greater cosmic significance than that.

  22. Anon May 7, 2019 10:46 am

    Sorry TFCFM, but I have to return ??? to your ???.

    Not the first time you seem unable to grasp a direct point that you should be able to grasp. I am unimpressed with your lack of ability to see things, as you clench tight your eyes. There is no ‘miss’ in the points I present as to your posting techniques. The tactics you use are not new, nor are they sophisticated.

  23. John Costello May 9, 2019 5:09 pm

    As a patent litigation attorney, I really wonder how much the attorney will be able to do for $4000? Assuming these are average mechanical or consumer type products, a bells and whistles patent infringement opinion written to provide and “advice of counsel” defense is around $30,000. Provided that the combatants prepare quality claim charts, perhaps this could afford an attorney to do an “eyeball” analysis and let the warring sides know which way the attorney is leaning on infringement. However, stacking matters of invalidity (prior art review of multiple patents) and damages analysis would blow the $4000 budget. I would have to look at doing one or two of these a year as really a pro-bono project. This could also be a way for large firms to introduce buck associates into patent litigation, but if not pro-bono, then the firm would have to write off a lot of hours. It will be interesting to see how many law firms get involved in this and to find out their reasons for getting involved, because the law firm economics don’t make sense.