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Mr. Daniels heads the Westerman Hattori Daniels & Adrian litigation group, where he handles litigation matters in district courts and at the International Trade Commission. Mr. Daniels also counsels clients by providing infringement and validity opinions, as well as guiding clients’ strategies using post-grant tools such as reexamination and reissue applications.
There is a tremendous amount of unrealized (“un-monetized”) value in the patent portfolios of many large companies. Yet, for one reason or another, such companies have chosen over the years not enforce their patents in court or through a licensing campaign. In recent times, however, a few of these companies have, one-by-one, started to transfer their patent rights to patent holding companies that are quite willing to enforce those patents. What does the large company receive in return for its patents?
Do patent applicants appealing a rejection of their claims from the Patent Trial and Appeals Board have a chance of success at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit? What about patentees appealing to the CAFC from rejections in reexamination proceedings? The candid answer is not much of a chance. Of course, every case is different and needs to be considered on its own merits. Yet, the standards for review of Board decisions, followed by the CAFC, significantly favor affirmance of those decisions.
Something a bit out of the ordinary occurred earlier this month in the ITC investigation Certain Devices for Mobile Data Communication, 337-TA-809. There, Unwired Planet had accused Apple and Research-In-Motion of infringing four patents related to data transmission with cellular phones. A trial before the ITC’s Administrative Law Judge Gildea was scheduled to begin October 15, but shortly before that date, Unwired withdrew its Complaint and filed a motion with the Judge Gildea to terminate the investigation. Unwired’s problem was that the Judge had previously construed the asserted claims to require that the mobile devices do not contain “a computer module,” thereby precluding a finding of infringement by the accused devices that do contain module computers. Unwired, however, has not entirely given up on its infringement allegations against Apple and RIM – rather, Unwired continues to pursue those claims in a parallel infringement action in Delaware.
A story of such potential liability is now playing out in Taser International v. Stinger, (Case No. 2:09-cv-289 (D. Nev.)). Taser, the developer of the TASER weapon for use by law enforcement, originally sued Stinger Systems for selling devices that infringed a number of Taser patents. In the course of the action, however, Stinger issued a series of press releases regarding its patent dispute with Taser, among them a press release reporting on a parallel reexamination proceeding. In a second action, Taser accuses Stinger, Stinger’s CEO and Stinger’s attorney of various business torts, all centering on allegations that Stinger, ita CEO and its attorney issued misleading press releases, damaging Taser’s reputation and stock price. According to Taser, one press release issued by Stinger in May 2007, caused its stock price to drop $40,000,000.