Patent ‘Trolls’ Recede as Threat to Innovation. Will Justices Change That?

from NYTs

In August, real estate agents in Texas fended off a company’s demands for royalty payments for a feature of many websites: the ability to show prospective home buyers where local schools, parks and grocery stores are. Administrative law judges at the United States Patent and Trademark Office found that the patent claims were simply not valid.

A few months before, in February, judges at the patent office put an end to “Project Paperless,” an attempt to extract royalties from small businesses using off-the-shelf scanners to scan documents to email. The litigants pressing for payment, the judges determined, had no right to the technology.

In September last year, they stopped Teva Pharmaceutical from extending its exclusive right to sell the blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone, and fend off generic drug manufacturers for years after its original patent expired, simply by patenting the method to administer it in a 40-milligram dose three times a week.

In the five years since it began its work — a result of the America Invents Act of 2011 — the Patent Trial and Appeal Board has saved companies more than $2 billion in legal fees alone, according to Joshua Landau, patent counsel at the Computer and Communications Industry Association, offering an expeditious and relatively cheap avenue to challenge patents of doubtful validity.

The benefits of stopping bad patents from snaking their way through the economy have been even greater.

More here.

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One Response to Patent ‘Trolls’ Recede as Threat to Innovation. Will Justices Change That?

  1. Vincent Scorese December 8, 2017 at 6:37 pm #

    This is good news in regards to the existence of the patent trolls and what it means for those who are trying to bring the creativity and innovation back to the workplace and industry. Patent trolls have costed businesses lots of money by trying to take advantage of the laws they found loops in by just sitting on patents and attacking those for royalties every time someone violated it. One of the major groups that suffered the most in this ordeal would be small businesses as they have attracted a lot of attention from the patent trolls to attack and try to extort money from. It’s like holding a company for ransom except in this situation it’s a legal thing to do. However, the patent trials and appeal board is striking back and is taking a fight back against the patent trolls that have taken a lot of negative impact on the business market that truly needs creativity and innovation to stay competitive. Just in the last few years they have saved small businesses over 2 billion dollars just in legal fees which is a very good sign and something that hopefully keeps the trend going.
    It is going to be a very interesting thing to see how the Justices will rule and whether or not they will rule in the favor of lessening the patent laws and their stifling effect on the company or will they rule to keep what some of these laws have done and kept a stranglehold on some part of the innovative process of the business world. Companies have tried to keep their products for as safe as they can be for as long as they can not only to protect their own company and its interests but to also keep a innovation they made only benefiting them and outdoing those who are opposed to them. Sometimes companies know once they patent something and it becomes public other companies will take it over at some point and call it something different so sometimes companies sell off the technology to at least try to make something from it. Sony has done this with Samsung I believe in the TV space with some of the new 4K technologies they came out with.
    I hope that the patent rules are lessened in regards to these trolls just sitting there trying to snag royalties from others but also not lessened too much where if someone invents something and innovates it they aren’t at risk to have that invention be used and not get some sort of reciprocation for it.

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