Tag: patent infringement

ConsultantsExpert WitnessIndustrial DesignLitigationPatent Infringement

Precision is Key to Patent Indefiniteness Challenge

Prior to June of 2014, the standard for patent review made it nearly impossible to invalidate a patent claim for “indefiniteness” or ambiguity. The  U.S. Supreme Court drastically changed that standard in Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc.

Nautilus brought the case before the Supreme Court based on the notion that “the patent system is best served when patent claims are precise, definite, and certain. Ambiguous and indefinite patents stifle competition and encourage unnecessary litigation.” The Supreme Court agreed saying that the ambiguity the lower court used to evaluate the patent would “leave courts and the patent bar at sea without a reliable compass.” In its unanimous decision, the Supreme Court asked the court of appeals to reevaluate whether Nautilus infringed on Biosig’s patent design based on stricter standards.

Although the Nautilus case involved a utility patent, it is suggested by Industrial Design expert, Robert John Anders, that this standard would most likely apply to design patent drawings as well. In a recent article, Mr. Anders posits that the use of break lines or brackets with “indeterminant” measurements could also lead to ambiguity, making design drawings vulnerable to patent infringement challenges.

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Read the full article here: Design Patent Drawing Conventions: Break Lines That May Be Fatal

Robert John Anders is a member of the Industrial Designers Society of America and the Human Factors and Ergonomic Society with more than 40 years of professional experience. Mr. Anders has been retained as an Industrial Design Expert for over 17 years.

Expert WitnessIntellectual PropertyLitigationPatent Infringement

The Tech Industry and Litigious NPEs

Patent InfringementIt comes as no surprise that the tech industry is the most litigated of 2012-2013. With companies such as Apple, Samsung, Verizon, LG, and Google vying for major shares of the market, competition can get fierce. For over a year, Samsung and Apple have been slugging it out over the copy and design of the iPhone’s software features. These, however, are operating companies with products and services to sell, both of which are vulnerable to fundamentally important legal counter-assertion defenses. Intellectual property litigation gets even more complicated and egregious when it is engendered by entities with no competitive products and services. The same defenses do not apply to to these entities. Even with new and pending patent reform laws in place, high tech litigation is overwhelming our court system and affecting the bottom lines of many high tech companies in industries such as electronics, communications, semiconductors, and software.

The most notable combatants in the IT litigation arena are the Non-Practicing Entities (NPEs), derogatorily known as “patent trolls.” These companies base their revenue stream solely on collecting, licensing, and enforcing patents, litigating whenever there is a threat to their patent’s market share, whether real or dubious. Although under criticism from some, James Bessen and Michael Meurer from Boston University released a highly publicized study estimating that the direct cost of NPE patent assertions is “substantial, totaling about $29 billion in accrued costs in 2011.” Although this includes patent infringement awards in all industries, high tech makes up fifty percent of NPE suits filed.

Litigation brought on by NPEs, both costly and time consuming, is difficult to defend. According to PatentFreedom, a company dedicated to assessing and addressing specific NPE risks, since NPEs “do not sell products or services (other than the licensing of their patents), NPEs typically do not infringe on the patent rights contained in others’ patent portfolios. As a result, they are essentially invulnerable to the threat of counter-assertion, which is otherwise one of the most important defensive – and stabilizing – measures in patent disputes.”

The America Invents Act (AIA) passed in September of 2011, which was meant to limit the number of defendants an NPE can join in a suit, has not curbed the amount of patent infringement litigation occurring today. The major tenet of AIA is a shift from “first to invent” to “first to file.” As such, NPEs can no longer gather all possible defendants in an effort to maximize awards. With good intentions, Congress set out to decrease the “deep pocket” syndrome, thereby reducing the number of suits filed. Although the AIA changes the economics of litigation, it has not, in the past few years, decreased the number of cases filed by NPEs. In fact, PatentFreedom estimates that, NPE  litigation against operating companies has increased by 170 from 2012 to 2013, and this is only the halfway mark. In 2012, the number of cases filed against operating companies was 4,229. So far this year, that number has increased to 4,400.

In March of 2013, the Shield Act was passed to curb the amount of egregious lawsuits brought on by NPEs. In effect, it makes NPEs responsible for the litigation costs of failed suits. However, the Shield Act requires defendants to take the suit all the way to final judgement. Since much time and resources are required to litigate these suits, most settle well before judgement. This leaves the door wide open for opportunistic NPEs.
Considering they have the right to sue, do NPEs, by their nature, have an unfair advantage over the operating companies they are suing. Considering the state of affairs today, should Congress do more to level the playing field? Only time will tell how this battle plays out.

ConsultantsExpert WitnessIntellectual PropertyLitigationPatent Infringement

PATENT INFRINGEMENT – CEASE AND DESIST!

Patent infringement litigation has been on the rise since the mid 1990s due mainly to the increase in computer-age technology.  Most patent infringement cases involve one company charging another company with selling or using its product for their own economic advantage.  Many times, the Defendant in a patent litigation case has no idea he is infringing on another’s intellectual property, but ignorance is never a defense in the law.  The Defendant will still have to cease benefiting from the patented item and pay the allotted damages to the Plaintiff.   If  the infringement is proven to be willful, damages in such a case can be increased up to three times the actual amount of damage.

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Patent law is governed by Federal Law and the rules are set out by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, 35 U.S.C. 271 Infringement of patent. – Patent Laws.  To find that a patent has indeed been infringed upon, several items must be found. In an article entitled, “Understanding Patent Infringement Legal Opinions”, David V. Radack sets out the following:

  1. A copy of the allegedly infringed patent.
  2. The file wrapper or file history of the patent which includes a copy of the patent application as filed, communication from the patent examiner in charge of the application, and communication from the applicant to the patent examiner.
  3. A copy of the prior art references cited during the prosecution of the patent application.
  4. The allegedly infringing product or device itself. Preferably, a commercially sold device is best.

Once this information is analyzed, many times with the help of Patent Infringement Expert Witnesses and Consultants, an opinion summary is provided.  It is this opinion which sets forth how the parties will proceed, how  the Defendant should respond to a cease and desist order, if changes can be made to Defendant’s product which will eliminate the violation, or to negate a charge of intentional infringement.

Considering the litigation gridlock currently in the Federal Court system, it may be worth it to seek the knowledge of  a Patent Expert or Consultant concurrent with the development of a new device or product. If not then, retaining a Consultant prior to marketing the product could save an enormous amount of time and money.

Please click the link for a list of knowledgeable Intellectual Property, Patent Infringement and Trademark Expert Witnesses and Consultants.