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Posts Tagged: "NPE’s"

It’s Time to Address ‘Patent Mercenaries’—and the USPTO Already Has the Tools

In response to intense lobbying for patent litigation reform, Congress was convinced that a substantial amount of district court patent litigation involved “poor quality” patents that were clearly invalid. Images of extortionist patent trolls were widely portrayed as a primary threat to U.S. innovation. The high cost of patent litigation, years to reach a judicial resolution and reliance on lay juries to determine highly technical issues were cited as evidence of a broken system. In response, Congress passed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) in 2011…. The current IPR system as implemented has caused severe damage to an important segment of our innovation community. Congress instructed the USPTO Director, in 35 USC§ 316(b), to “consider the effect of any such regulation on the economy, the integrity of the patent system, the efficient administration of the Office, and the ability of the Office to timely complete proceedings instituted under this chapter.” It is time for the Director to reevaluate the effect of IPRs.

SEP Litigation Trends: What Does the Data Say?

Standard-essential patents (SEPs) are on the rise as the number of yearly newly declared patents has almost tripled over the past five years; there were 6,457 net new declared patent families in 2015 compared to 17,623 yearly net new declared patent families in 2020 (see figure 1). The 5G standard alone counts over 150,000 declared patents since 2015. Similarly, litigation around SEPs has increased. One of the driving factors of recent patent litigation is, on the one hand, the sharply increasing number of SEP filings, and on the other, the shift from connectivity standards (e.g. 4G/5G, Wi-Fi) mostly incorporated in computers, smart phones, and tablets to new industry applications where standards are implemented in connected vehicles, smart homes, smart factories, smart energy and/or healthcare applications.

Fandango Accused by IP Licensing Company of Infringing Media Streaming Patents

Helios Streaming, LLC and IdeaHub, Inc. have filed a complaint against the popular online movie ticket sale and media streaming platform, Fandango Media, LLC, for patent infringement involving four patents, alleging that Fandango infringed its media streaming-related patents. IdeaHub is the assignee and owner of the patents-in-suit and Helios—an “Intellectual Property Research and Licensing Service Company” characterized by Unified Patents as a non-practicing entity—holds the exclusive license and rights to assert them. The patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 10,270,830 (the ’830 patent); 10,313,414 (the ’414 patent); 10,356,145 (the ’145 patent); and 10,362,130 (the ’130 patent), (the “Asserted Patents”) all of which claim “technologies for providing adaptive HTTP streaming services using metadata of media content.”

Unified Patents Jumps the Shark with Patroll Contest to Invalidate KinectUs Patent

In early October, social networking firm KinectUs LLC filed a lawsuit in the Western District of Texas alleging claims of patent infringement by Bumble Trading, LLC, the operator of the popular Bumble dating app. In the suit, KinectUs accused Bumble of infringing upon claims of six patents that protect systems and methods for connecting mobile device users via a collaboration system that enables users to connect with other users based on search parameters like common interests or location data. KinectUs’ infringement allegations focus on Bumble’s platform, which allows mobile device users to connect with others based on similar parameters. While the actual analysis of whether Bumble’s user matching system infringes claims of the ‘428 patent would normally require at least a Markman hearing and some discovery, certain members of the U.S. patent community would prefer to harness the power of crowdsourcing to make this determination. IP litigation risk management firm Unified Patents is hosting a Patroll contest seeking prior art to invalidate the ‘428 patent owned by KinectUs. U

Unified Report: No Rest for Patent Filings in a Pandemic

The Western District of Texas continues to explode in popularity with non-practicing entities (NPEs); an operating company is the most prolific filer of patent disputes in district court for the first time; and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) filings are up by 16%, found Unified Patents’ Q3 2020 Patent Dispute Report. Despite the pandemic, both district court and PTAB filings are up, with combined patent disputes on track to increase by 12.7% over 2019, said the report. It added: “The third quarter saw a 13.7% decrease in litigation from last quarter, but assuming this stays the same, 2020 litigation is set to reach its highest level since 2017, largely driven by an increase in NPE litigation.”

Intellectual Property and Bankruptcy: The IP Value Proposition that Startups Should Not Overlook During Financial Distress

The international economic disruption caused by COVID-19 presents unprecedented challenges. Thriving tech startup companies worth millions in January might find themselves struggling to stay afloat today. This article highlights the value of intellectual property (IP) that companies – particularly small companies without an IP department – can sometimes overlook in times of financial distress. The policy goals behind IP rights are at odds with the goals of bankruptcy law. Bankruptcy laws in the United States are “debtor friendly” and, in their most simplistic form, shield the party from certain debtors while forcing the sale of assets to pay other debts. But court ordered sales tend to undervalue complex property like IP. This is particularly apparent when it comes to patents.

Why Non-Practicing Entities (NPEs) Are Good For China

In the U.S., the risks of frivolous patent lawsuits is greater because the merits are decided by a group of jurors who lack patent expertise and can incorrectly conclude that a patent is infringed. In China, however, these inefficiencies and imbalances do not exist. The specialized intellectual property courts and tribunals in China are equipped with specialized judges who are able to quickly and accurately identify frivolous lawsuits. Because there is no discovery process and a decision on the merits can often be achieved within one year, the abusive tactics employed by patent trolls in the U.S. can be avoided in China.

Patent Encumbrances Can Reduce Market Value up to 100 Percent

Patent broker Brad Close notes that encumbrances can have the effect of reducing a patent’s value by up to 100 percent, practically rendering a patent valueless on the market. “If the only companies which are potential targets for a license are already licensed, then the intellectual property is essentially worthless,” Close said. “If a startup is considering entering into an agreement that would place an encumbrance upon a patent, I would advise them to be very sure that what they’re receiving in return offers adequate value and to take into consideration both their investors and the future of the business,” Close said.

Facebook patent infringement suit against BlackBerry looks remarkably patent troll-like

Facebook is asserting a series of patents the company has acquired from other firms, making its actions similar to those of non-practicing entities (NPEs) and remarkably patent troll-like. After all, we have been told time and time again by those who have advocated for patent reform and a systematic dismantling of the patent system that a telltale sign of a truly bad actor like a patent troll is that the patents were not the subject of homegrown innovation, but were rather acquired from true innovators and then used to sue others. That, however, is precisely what Facebook is doing here. 

Tech Giants Lead the Way on Fintech Patents, Ahead of Banks

British patent data insights firm Cipher recently released an IP strategy report that provides a look at how many firms are patenting technologies in the hopes of disrupting various industry sectors. Among the various highlights of the report include a look at fintech patents, which shows that tech companies and not banks are leading the way in obtaining patents that cover the future of banking.

The Founders’ Decision to Foster NPEs and Patent Licensing

The founding fathers intentionally created a patent system affordable by the masses, and which was approachable and far less administratively complex. As imperative as that was for U.S. economic success, perhaps the two most important and distinguishing features of the U.S. patent system as compared with the British patent system relate to the fact that there was no “working requirement” and patents were viewed as assets that could be sold.

Why Patent Contingency Litigation is Declining?

Contingency representation is monetarily feasible for attorneys and law firms if and only if there is a high likelihood of success. Even in the best case scenario attorneys will sometimes make bad judgment calls when taking a contingency case, but when the underlying asset is under attack — as patents have been — it makes it all the more difficult to justify the risk of putting in all that work and ultimately receiving nothing in return.

Misrepresentations in Service to Efficient Infringer Lobby

The world of intellectual property law has been abuzz in recent months leading up to oral arguments in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC, a case which will determine whether the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) operates in violation of both Article III of the U.S. Constitution and…

What Changes Result from the Supreme Court Decision in TC Heartland?

Unfortunately, the answer may be not as much as many expected. Right after the decision there were 350 motions to transfer or dismiss in the EDTX. But the limitations imposed by TC Heartland have been called into question by a ruling from EDTX Judge Rodney Gilstrap in Raytheon Co. v. Cray Inc. In his decision, Gilstrap denied a motion by Cray seeking to transfer the case to another district in light of TC Heartland. Gilstrap found that the existence of a single employee in the district constituted “regular and established place of business,” and he established a four-factor test to decide whether newer cases belong in the district… As hopeful as some folks were about TC Heartland, it certainly hasn’t stopped NPEs. The IP community must acknowledge this and adjust accordingly – it’s still the wild west out there, for now.

The duplicitous nature of Unified Patents statements about patent owners

Based on this Unified Patents definition of an NPE, any patent owner that seeks to enforce a patent, whether through licensing or litigation, is a patent troll. Therefore, according to Unified Patents and Shawn Ambwani, any patent owner that seeks a licensing fee, seeks to resolve ongoing infringement, or resorts to the judicial process to seek redress for those who are violating rights granted by the federal government are patent trolls. In other words, all patent owners are patent trolls in the view of Unified Patents and Shawn Ambwani. Only those patent owners that go through the extraordinary time and expense of inventing and obtaining a patent and then do absolutely nothing are legitimate patent owners — everyone else is a patent troll. Talk about completely and utterly asinine! But I suppose that is how they come up with the ridiculous and obviously phony “statistics” about more than 95% of patent infringement cases being filed by patent trolls. The only way that is possible is because to Unified Patents all patent owners are patent trolls!