The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has an online guide on the implementation of the America Invents Act and how the law effects patent examination, post-issuance matters, and USPTO fee and budgetary issues. The AIA website also provides the opportunity to submit comment on the AIA and the agency’s implementation of the law.
One important case that is not mentioned in the article is Eon-Net v. Flagstar Bancorp. And you may want to know what happened in that case because it was a bad day for non-practicing entities, that is, for patent trolls.
Eon-Net is a patent holding company that, with its related entities, had filed over 100 lawsuits against many companies for patent infringement. In most cases, the companies settled for between $25,000 and $75,000 rather than going through the expense of a lawsuit, something which could easily exceed $1,000,000. Flagstar Bancorp, however, decided to fight and spent over $600,000 to litigate the case, an amount that would have been substantially more had the district court allowed full discovery.
To the surprise of many, the court found in favor of Flagstar,
… Eon-Net’s case against Flagstar had “indicia of extortion” because it was part of Eon-Net’s history of filing nearly identical patent infringement complaints against a plethora of diverse defendants, where Eon-Net followed each filing with a demand for a quick settlement at a price far lower than the cost to defend the litigation.
The court went on to state that Eon-Net “acted in bad faith by exploiting the high cost to defend complex litigation to extract a nuisance value settlement”, that cases like theirs are meritless, and that as a non-practicing entity (i.e. troll) Eon-Net faced little risk in filing lawsuits; they faced no business risk, were generally immune to counterclaims, antitrust, and unfair competition claims.
For their legally baseless infringement allegations, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision to impose Rule 11 sanctions against Eon-Net.
What does that mean? It means the court may impose monetary penalties which may include awarding reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, to the prevailing party (in this case, Flagstar).
And it means a potentially very bad decision for trolls who now might want to reconsider their strategy of filing a barrage of lawsuits.
Under the program, participants were permitted to conduct an interview with the examiner after reviewing a Pre-Interview Communication providing the result of a prior art search conducted by the examiner. Participants experienced many benefits including: (1) the ability to advance prosecution of an application; (2) enhanced interaction between applicant and the examiner; (3) the opportunity to resolve patentability issues one-on-one with the examiner at the beginning of the prosecution process; and (4) the opportunity to facilitate possible early allowance.
Requests filed on or after April 1, 2011 and before May 16, 2012 will be granted if all requirements are met.
The Senate approved the Patent Reform Act which would transition the U.S. to a first-to-file system instead of the current first-to-invent system. The Act also creates a nine-month “first window” post-grant procedure to allow challenges to patents.
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I have worked with the author, Dr. Jaime Koufman, for many years prosecuting patents claiming groundbreaking treatments for laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), atypical reflux, and acid reflux.
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On June 1, 2009, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Bilski v. Doll, and will consider whether the en banc decision of the Court of Appeals of the Federal Circuit “Federal Circuit” in subjecting business method patents to the “machine or transformation” test was appropriate. Specifically, the Supreme Court will consider the following two issues:
- Whether the Federal Circuit erred by holding that a “process” must be tied to a particular machine or apparatus, or transform a particular article into a different state or thing “machine-or- transformation” test, to be eligible for patenting under 35 U.S.C. §101, despite this Court’s precedent declining to limit the broad statutory grant of patent eligibility for “any” new and useful process beyond excluding patents for “laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas.”, and
- Whether the Federal Circuit’s “machine-or-transformation” test for patent eligibility, which effectively forecloses meaningful patent protection to many business methods, contradicts the clear Congressional intent that patents protect “method[s] of doing or conducting business.” 35 U.S.C. §273.
The New York Times reports,
Although patent litigation is not new in the technology world, these suits, specifically around mobile, point to the drastically changing mobile landscape. Lawyers I spoke with explained that mobile technology was still in its infancy and these large computing companies were trying to stake their claim to the future of computing.
On Tuesday when I spoke with Eric Von Hippel, a professor of technological innovation at M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management. He pointed out that patent lawsuits had turned particularly unpleasant lately as a result of companies that only buy and sell patents.