Posts Tagged: "International Trade Commission"

Calling A Truce Over ITC Patent Data

Reasonable minds may disagree about how significant the gap is. Indeed, it could fairly be said that the investigation figure I report is 50% higher than the ITC’s (28% v. 19%), and that the sample size is too small to draw any statistical conclusions. Still, reporting the results together, the ITC and I agree that: (1) 43-47% of respondents at the ITC in the last 15-18 months are respondents named in NPE/PAE investigations; and (2) 19-28% of investigations at the ITC in the last 15-18 months are NPE/PAE-initiated investigations.

NPE Data Does Not Support the Patent Infringer Lobby

Anyone who is even casually interested in patents and innovation has to know that over the past few years there have been massive patent battles surrounding the major innovators, copy-cats and manufacturers involved in the smart phone industry. According to the ITC, “Smartphone companies involved in Section 337 investigations during the first half of FY 2012 include: Apple (14), HTC (8), Motorola (4), Samsung (3), RIM (3), Nokia (3), and LG (1).” This has required the ITC to increase staff, and has been a burden on the Commission. But none of those companies are NPEs, are they? It seems the patent infringer lobby is using increases in ITC filings to support their preferred policy position despite the lack of a causal connection.

Weakening the ITC’s Patent Jurisdiction Will Harm US Economy

Licensing U.S. intellectual property strengthens the economy and improves our trade balance. Section 337, the statute that regulates unfair practices in import trade, is a key element of the nation’s trade laws and ensures that American innovators, including licensing companies, will not be harmed by the importation of goods that infringe valid and enforceable U.S. patents. Importers of foreign made products – both U.S. based and foreign companies – have appealed to Congress for several changes to Section 337 that would, in effect, limit access to the ITC and/or weaken the powers of the ITC to deal with cases of unfair trade practices. Weakening the ITC’s jurisdiction would benefit foreign economies, foreign competitors, and other foreign manufacturers to the detriment of the U.S. economy.

Infringer Lobby Seeks to Strip ITC of Patent Powers

Perhaps the infringer lobby needs a refresher course on the rights granted to a patent owner. 35 U.S.C. § 271(a) says: “whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States, or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent.” (emphasis added). So, as it turns out, importation of products covered by a patent during the term of the patent are an infringement of the patent rights granted. Let’s not forget that at the end of the day what these Silicon Valley elite are arguing is that it should be more difficult for a patent owner to stop infringement. The wrong-doers are NOT the patent owners who have the audacity to exercise rights granted by the federal government. The wrong-doers are those who infringe those rights and there is absolutely no reason to make it easier for them to engage in infringement.

GE Wins at Federal Circuit in Mitsubishi Wind Turbine Case

On Friday, July 6, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision in General Electric Co. v. ITC. The Federal Circuit, per Judge Newman with Chief Judge Rader and Judge Linn, did not give GE a total victory, but victory enough over Mitsubishi. The Federal Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the original decision of the ITC, and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with the decision. Ultimately, the Federal Circuit ruled that claim 15 of the ‘985 patent, correctly construed, covers the domestic industry turbines. Of note, the CAFC continues to interpret “connected to” and “coupled to” as not requiring physical separation.

More Patent Trouble for HTC and Motorola at the ITC

On Thursday, June 7, 2012, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) announced that it had launched an investigation into whether certain RF Micro Devices, Inc. (RFMD) products infringe patents owned by Peregrine Semiconductor Corporation, a leading provider of high-performance radio-frequency (RF) integrated circuits (ICs). The action and investigation initiated by the ITC include Motorola Mobility, Inc. and HTC Corporation (HTC), whose products incorporate the alleged infringing RF ICs. Peregrine holds numerous U.S. and foreign patents based on its work in developing and manufacturing high-performance products that can be produced using standard CMOS-based semiconductor manufacturing processes. These patented innovations allow RF solutions to be produced with a combination of high levels of monolithic integration and performance, small size and low power consumption.

Some Observations on the Market Reverberations of the Smart Phone Patent Wars

Commenting on the Yahoo! Inc. patent infringement lawsuit filed against Facebook in March of 2012, Mr. Cuban concludes his post by stating: “I hope Yahoo[!] is awarded $50 billion dollars. It is the only way that consumers will realize what is at stake with patent law as is. Then maybe we can get it right and further innovation and competition in this country.” These statements are from a very influential technology entrepreneur, investor and generally-recognized American business guru. Thus, it would seem that the continuous negative headlines from the smart phone patent wars are definitely giving patents a bad rap!

Are Some Patent Holders More Equal Than Others?

What’s troubling is that Hewlett Packard itself, the original startup headquartered in a garage, was one of the earliest and most-respected leaders of the 20th Century high-tech revolution that had its epicenter in Silicon Valley. It was William Hewlett who gave a 13-year-old Steve Jobs spare parts for a device Jobs was building — and a summer job as well. And it was Mr. Hewlett and his executive heirs who insisted that HP conscientiously patent its breakthrough innovations and fight against those that infringed those patents. HP today earns hundreds of millions of dollars annually by licensing its patent rights to others — according to IAM magazine, “at any one time, HP has about 150 licensing transactions in process.” And as the court dockets show, it certainly isn’t shy about filing suit against infringers who refuse to take a license.

Are the Smartphone Patent Wars Giving Patents a Bad Rap?

So who is the villain in all of these wars responsible for again giving patents a bad rap? Well, the villain in not the ITC, USPTO or any U.S. government agency. Nor it is any country’s protectionist trade regime, or an “irreparably broken” U.S. or global patent system. No, the real villains here may very well be a handful of companies that willingly contributed patented technologies to various SSOs, championing their adoption and encouraging their use in a host of consumer electronics, and now claim (years later) that the very producers they encouraged to implement these standards should be barred from making, using or importing their products into the U.S. market.

Patent Litigation Investors Follow the Money to the ITC

The avalanche of patent assertion entities (PAE) cases, in the ITC and District Court, exists because the PTO issues hundreds, if not thousands of patents that can be asserted against every minute feature and functionality of tech products and services. The overwhelming majority issued to so-called inventors who played no part in developing these features and functionalities, including to patent mills that specialize in stalking the development of technology standards and obtaining claims they hope will read on those standards. And tech patent applications often pend (through continuations) for 10 years or more, enabling patentees to intentionally draft claims to read on existing products and services. In fact, these euphemistically entitled “early priority date” patents are the grist of tech patent litigation today, including PAE cases in the ITC.

Follow the Money – Will the ITC Lose its Patent Jurisdiction?

Such is the case with the newest lobby in Washington, the self-described “ITC Working Group.” You won’t learn anything about this organization by searching Google — odd, considering that Google is a member — but according to industry sources, its aim is twofold: First, it wants to block the International Trade Commission (ITC) from hearing patent infringement cases brought by “non-practicing entities” — i.e., patent holders like universities, independent inventors, and others who license their patents for manufacturers to commercialize. And second, it wants to weaken the ITC’s power to block the importation of infringing products into the U.S.

OPEN Act Would be Ineffective at Stopping Online Piracy

Simply stated, the OPEN Act would be completely and totally ineffectual and, therefore, it must be opposed. There is simply no point in enacting more pointless legislation, we have enough pointless legislation already. Content creators cannot create in a vacuum devoid of economic reality. If you take eyeballs away and/or provide things for free that are supposed to be paid for you are causing injury and making it all the more difficult to be a content creator. Think about it for a second. The content that you most value, is that created by commercial enterprises or people just doing it for free as a hobby in their spare time? If you are honest with yourself we both know the answer.

The Problem with Patent Trolls

To me a patent troll is not just someone who has acquired a patent for purpose of licensing or bringing a lawsuit, but rather one who is engaging in some kind of unfair business practice. The telltale sign of a patent troll is one who is abusing the patent right in order to shake down a defendant for payment. This type of behavior is typically exhibited by non-practicing entities who are not innovators, but rather acquire patent rights. However, the act of bringing specious claims to provoke a settlement would, in my opinion, be just as bad if brought by an innovator.

InterDigital vs. Nokia, Huawei and ZTE at ITC in Patent Dispute

This InterDigital complaint arises under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. § 1337). Pursuant to Section 337, the ITC conducts investigations into allegations of unfair practices relating to importation and trade. Section 337 declares the infringement of certain statutory intellectual property rights and other forms of unfair competition to be unlawful practices. Section 337 investigations conducted by the U.S. International Trade Commission most often involve claims regarding intellectual property rights, including allegations of patent infringement and trademark infringement by imported goods. In this case, the InterDigital complaint asserts the defendants are infringing U.S. Patent Nos. 7,349,540, 7,502,406, 7,536,013, 7,616,970, 7,706,332, 7,706,830, and 7,970,127.

Torpedoing Patent Rights

The vast number of America’s companies that need patents to prosper and grow should fear the post-grant provisions for challenging patents in H.R. 1249, the patent reform bill passed last month by the House of Representatives. In a system already plagued by delays in granting patents, they threaten to delay courts from enforcing patents once finally granted. This threat has received little attention, perhaps because advocates of the bill promise promptness that they cannot deliver.