Posts Tagged: "fee shifting"

SCOTUS Holds in NantKwest that USPTO Cannot Be Reimbursed for Salaries of Legal Personnel

The Supreme Court ruled in Peter v. NantKwest today that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) cannot recover the salaries of USPTO attorneys and paralegals who work on civil actions against the USPTO Director in the Eastern District of Virginia. The Court held that the language of Section 145 of the Patent Act, which says that applicants must pay all the expenses of the proceedings for a civil action, “does not overcome the American Rule’s presumption against fee shifting.” The USPTO argued that the Federal Circuit’s en banc 2018 decision holding “all expenses” does not include “expenses that the USPTO incurs when its employees, including attorneys, defend the agency in Section 145 litigation,” is inconsistent with the ordinary meaning of  “expenses” and Section 145’s “history and purpose.”

Filling in the Holes: The CASE Act is Where Good Intention Meets Good Policy

While there are a number of falsehoods being spread about the CASE Act by those who philosophically oppose any legislation that will help the creative community, there are a few honest critiques that are based on simple misunderstandings about the bill rather than malice. Take, for instance, an article published earlier this week on this blog which characterizes the CASE Act’s intentions as noble, but argues that there are “three gaping holes” that make for bad policy…. The CASE Act will not bring an end to copyright infringement, nor is it intended to. Subversive parties that intend to infringe and skirt the law are unlikely to be brought to justice under the CASE Act. But the CASE Act is good policy for achieving what it is intended to do: provide an alternative to federal court where consenting parties who presently cannot afford to, might finally get their day in court.

En banc CAFC: Patent applicant Not required to pay PTO attorney fees in District Court appeal

NantKwest filed suit in district court under 35 U.S.C. § 145 to contest the PTO’s rejection of its patent application. The USPTO prevailed and filed a motion for reimbursement of all of its litigation expenses, including attorney’s fees. 35 U.S.C. § 145 requires that “all expenses of the proceeding be paid by the applicant,” which the USPTO claimed included their fees and costs… While Congress can create fee-shifting statutes, 35 U.S.C. § 145 did not reflect explicit congressional authorization for fee-shifting that would displace the American Rule.

Lincoln loved our patent system, Let’s not tear it down

Abraham Lincoln once called the patent system one of the three greatest advances in human history, along with the discovery of America and the printing press… The result is a patent system in crisis, which threatens our economic future. Small businesses received 30 percent of U.S. patents in 2000. Last year the number plummeted to 19.5 percent. Small companies undertake the risk and expense of developing breakthrough technologies that made us the most prosperous nation in history. When they lose confidence in the patent system the country will suffer.

Patent Fee Shifting Stops Not Only Patent Trolls But Industry Bullies Too

What may be less well known is that Octane was not itself a “patent troll” case. Rather, Octane involved another kind of abusive patent litigation; namely, a large company asserting a patent it pulled “off the shelf” against a small start-up competitor. While patent trolls gain economic advantage through economies of scale, large companies have economic advantages over smaller competitors by virtue of their size and resources, and can similarly abuse the system. They can use the high cost to defend patent litigation as a competitive weapon, either to force the smaller competitor to exit the market, discontinue a product line, or pay an unwarranted royalty (thereby hindering the competitor in the marketplace). On remand, the District Court in the Octane case recognized just this sort of economic coercion, and found the case exceptional warranting a fee award. And last week, the District Court awarded almost $2 million in fees and costs to Octane, the prevailing accused infringer.

The path to prosperity requires sound patent policy, not more patent reform

Innovation is the lifeblood of a prosperous economy. Sound patent policy, which encourages the nexus between risk and ideas (especially for small entrepreneurs), makes invention profitable. The U.S. patent system enables that dream by protecting the market an invention creates long enough for the inventor to gain a toehold against competition, and by creating a property right capable of attracting critical investment to bring the invention to market and grow the business. Don’t let H.R. 9 or S.1137 kill this can do American spirit of innovation.

Will the Obama Administration continue to seek amendments to the Innovation Act?

As patent reform keeps chugging along in Washington, an important briefing was held on Thursday, July 23rd, between members and staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Michelle Lee. The meeting focused on H.R. 9, the Innovation Act, which recently moved out of committee and is heading to the floor of the House for a vote once it’s scheduled, although a vote is not expected until September at the earliest. The briefing was closed to the press.

Patent Reform riddled with intended, unintended, and unknown consequences

Most Congressional offices now understand how loser-pay, bonding and joinder stops the flow of capital to innovation startups, how customer stays make defending patent rights impossibly difficult, why eliminating PRG estoppel perpetuates litigation shifting almost all of the costs onto inventors, and how IPR’s and CBM’s unjustly strip property rights and devalue all patents. Rank and file offices seem to be listening. However, key offices are deliberately deaf.

Is the patent system self correcting, or are we going too far?

Everybody has to be careful because you’re right if we undermine our patent system that is the only thing that allows America to remain strong competitively because China they just have labor rates that are a fraction of ours. We couldn’t possibly make products as cheaply as China. We need to make sure that Congress isn’t hearing so much about how bad the patent system is that they without intention undermine it in significant part and then hurt our competitive advantage against China. I mean that’s all possible. I agree. I share that concern. Are we going too far?

Behind the Scenes on Octane Fitness and Fee-Shifting

I think there was certainly a level of abuse prior to patent trolls from larger companies that weren’t scrupulous trying to sue smaller companies and using the high cost of patent litigation to get things they weren’t entitled to. The only difference was these smaller companies that were being abused didn’t have any lobbying efforts before Congress. So when the whole patent troll issue came to a fever pitch the biggest companies in America were being held hostage to it. Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn, all of the most notorious companies that are just great technologies were being sued by smaller entities. And how do these smaller entities get economic leverage over these big companies? They did it because they could file 40 lawsuits at a time so the incremental cost beyond case number one didn’t cost anything. And they would just hold out for these nuisance value settlements and that’s why even the largest companies in America were being held hostage. How Octane changed that is now that you have a realistic chance of getting attorneys’ fees, now you have that chance now the bigger companies can stand up to a troll.

University exception to fee shifting in PATENT Act won’t help Iowa State or University of Iowa

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) added language to the fee-shifting provisions in the PATENT Act that would offer an economic hardship exception to fee shifting for “an institution of higher education.” The reason that Iowa State and the University of Iowa find themselves on the outside looking in is because of the way they have structured their patent ownership and licensing efforts. As is rather common, Iowa State and the University of Iowa place ownership of patents outside the institution and in the hands of a Research Foundation, which is a separate entity altogether.

The Grassley PATENT Act will make our faltering patent system worse for innovators

Today, our patent system is faltering. For the first time in our history, inventors and their counsel are considered villains for defending hard-earned patent rights. Companies that steal patents from inventors are called our innovators. The innovation world has turned up-side-down. A few misguided decisions by the courts and the “so-called” America Invents Act of 2011 has made it a CEO’s fiduciary responsibility to steal patented inventions and massively commercialize them with no concern for patent rights.

Only patent owners are despicable enough to pierce the corporate veil

The reach of the veil piercing is also unprecedented. The proposal implies that an inventor who assigns to other companies that make no products and stand to make a royalty is an interested party. Think about that – we are no longer considering charging just investors or shell company owners with attorneys’ fees. Instead, the proposal would pierce the veil all the way down to the inventor that assigned the patent to his or her employer. If this broad a reading seems unreasonable, consider the recent manager’s amendment, which clarifies to exclude lenders, because the language is so broad it might have included lenders before.

House Judiciary approves Innovation Act despite clear lack of consensus

Dissent among members of Congress on the nature of the Innovation Act was evident from the opening remarks of the committee’s two ranking members. Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the House Judiciary Committee Chairman and the Innovation Act’s major sponsor, stated that the Innovation Act would “ensure that the patent system lives up to its constitutional underpinnings” while targeting the abusive patent litigation which has been central to the debate on patent trolls. The ranking Democratic member of the committee, Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), said the bill was overly broad and yet it didn’t adequately address issues significant to this debate, including abusive demand letters and the ending of fee diversions from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s budget.

Patent Reform 101: A comparison of current fee-shifting language

Goodlatte was incredulous, explaining that he sees no substantive difference between the language in the Innovation Act and the language in the PATENT Act. The difference between the House bill and the Senate bill boils down to the presumptions made and who will wind up bearing the burden of proof. Congressman Goodlatte is sophisticated and knowledgeable. Surely he has to understand both that there is a difference and that the difference is meaningful.