EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS


Number of Patent Cases in the Eastern District of Texas Has Dropped by an Astounding Rate in Just a Few Months

Posted in America, Patents at 3:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The political system wants change as much as Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Justices do

Orrin Hatch

Summary: The United States is moving closer to a post-trolls era, not just a post-software patents era, thanks in part to few outspoken politicians who can identify the issue with both

PATENT trolls are a big cause for concern in the US, more so than software patents (which about half a decade ago vanished from headlines).

The issues associated with patent trolls were mentioned in the latest post from Senator Orrin Hatch (we covered it on Wednesday and Patently-O published an outline of his points on the same day). Are patent trolls going to be a thing of the past any time soon? Maybe.

Following the SCOTUS intervention earlier this year (TC Heartland decision back in May), patent trolls based near the Eastern District of Texas are basically screwed, as many of us expected all along. The number of cases has “fallen to 16% post-TC Heartland from 34% before,” Managing IP wrote yesterday. Most of the article is behind paywall, as usual, but here is the key part:

The Eastern District of Texas’s share of US district court patent cases in 2017 has fallen to 16% post-TC Heartland from 34% before, while overall patent case filing is on course to fall 13% for the full year compared to 2016, reveals data from Unified Patents

Many of these cases are filed by trolls and many involve software patents. So this is a very big deal!

Yesterday, Josh Landau from the CCIA published a long article at Patent Progress in which he explained how PTAB (which Orrin Hatch also defends) has saved the world from a very nasty patent troll called MPHJ — one that uses a software patent, as usual. Here are some key portions:

MPHJ Threatens Basically Everyone

MPHJ had a very simple business model. If you were a business that used a scanner with a scan-to-email feature (which, these days, is just about any business copier/scanner), they would send you a letter. The letter would say “you need to pay us $1,000 per employee for use of our patent, or sign a letter swearing you don’t ever use scan-to-email, with a penalty of $1,000 per employee if you didn’t tell the truth.”

And MPHJ sent out more than 9,000 of these letters to small businesses. (According to the FTC, they specifically targeted businesses with 20-99 employees.)

The small businesses reacted in various ways. Some ignored the letters. Some paid up. But ultimately, it wasn’t reasonable for them to take on the burden of an expensive lawsuit or even a less expensive IPR, given that the amount at stake was always less than the cost of even filing an IPR. However, the way in which they operated did draw attention from the FTC and State Attorneys General, who successfully targeted the way in which MPHJ conducted their campaign. But simply targeting the enforcement approach wasn’t enough to shut down MPHJ.


MPHJ demanded around $1,000 per employee for a license. That means that the amount demanded from any given target was likely lower than the cost of an IPR, much less the cost of litigation, meaning that there was little incentive for any single MPHJ target to fight back. The companies that actually made the scanners that MPHJ claimed infringed might have had the financial incentive to fight back. But if IPR didn’t exist, those companies would have needed their customers to start fighting in court, at which point they could try to individually defend each of the 9,000 customers MPHJ sued. After several years of litigation, the manufacturer might be able to obtain a judgment of invalidity in a trial. Only at that point would other customers be safe.

Instead, they could file an IPR challenging the validity of the MPHJ patents. This enabled manufacturers to defend all small businesses using their products with a single action. IPR’s efficiency allowed the scanner makers to avoid duplication of litigation costs while also allowing them to protect their customers, the end users of the technology.

No one should have to worry that using a product they bought off the shelf at the office supply store in the way it’s designed to be used will result in a demand letter from a patent troll. IPR helps to prevent exactly that situation, allowing manufacturers to protect their end users.

In our next post we’ll deal with PTAB, for there’s a SCOTUS decision on the way about it. PTAB’s fate/future is probably safe, but we must keep abreast of what the trolls’ lobby is doing in an effort to undermine PTAB.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New

  1. The Enemies of the Patent System Are Patent Maximalists, Not Those Pursuing Saner Patent Policy

    Taking stock of some recent news and remarking (yet again) on the danger the patent system faces if it allows patent lawyers rather than inventors to steer/influence policy (as seen in Europe with the failed UPC bid)

  2. The European Patent Office’s (EPO) Declining Patent Quality 'Tackled' by Making Appeals/Oppositions Harder and More Expensive

    The so-called 'System Battistelli' is proving to be a disaster which makes both examiners and patents obsolete; Making applications cheaper while making appeals/oppositions harder and more expensive is a recipe for disaster, assuring nothing but more litigation and more workloads for courts, where fees rise to extraordinary levels (in effect externalising the costs/toll of EPO to the public, primarily for gains of patent law firms)

  3. Ericsson, Acting Directly Rather Than Via the Patent Trolls It Habitually Uses, in a Patent War Against Linux/Android

    LG is the latest company to be sued by Ericsson, which doesn't just harass the competition (which actually sells something) through patent trolls but also directly, having won a case in the notorious Eastern District of Texas (EDTX/TXED)

  4. The Federation of International Civil Servants' Association: Frenchman “Campinos is Known for Having Close Ties to Mr. Battistelli Who Strongly Supported His Candidacy.”

    Readers find little or no room for optimism as Battistelli's final day at the Office approaches; FICSA is not optimistic either and the general consensus is that Battistelli's so-called 'reforms' will soon yield layoffs

  5. Links 22/3/2018: Mesa 17.3.7, Mesa 18.0.0 RC5, RawTherapee 5.4, Krita 4

    Links for the day

  6. Japan is Becoming Firmer on Patents, Whereas China Goes in the Opposite Direction

    Japan has become less tolerant of patent aggressors and more conscious/concerned about patent quality, which is why the patent microcosm would rather hail China as a role model (even when China's overall share of patents in Europe, for example, is about the same as tiny South Korea and a lot smaller than Japan's)

  7. Aggressive New Activities of Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls: Finjan, Intellectual Ventures, and Dominion Harbor

    The extensive group of Microsoft-connected patent trolls is still very much active; Microsoft funds them, arms them, and gives them instructions while offering people 'protection' from them (if and only if they choose Azure)

  8. Battistelli's Ongoing Attacks on the Boards Are Helping Unitary Patent (UPC), Which in Turn Helps French Patent Trolls

    Battistelli will likely be remembered not only as the man who attacked justice (and judges) but also rendered staff redundant, issued a lot of highly controversial patents, and by doing so helped the insurgence of patent trolls in Europe

  9. Links 21/3/2018: Cutelyst 2, More on webOS

    Links for the day

  10. SUEPO: “Today May Be Your Last Chance to Demonstrate Against the Seriously Flawed Reforms That Mr Battistelli Has Imposed” on EPO Staff

    Benoît Battistelli will likely remain involved in EPO affairs for a long time to come (even through a fellow Frenchman, Campinos, whom he swaps two chairs with at the Office and CEIPI), but today is the last opportunity for EPO staff to march in protest against the Battistelli regime, which for the first time ever will result in major staff cuts and growing irrelevance for the Office

  11. Links 20/3/2018: GStreamer 1.14.0, Freespire 3.0, Endless OS 3.3.13

    Links for the day

  12. BIO, MDMA and PhRMA Are Pushing the PTAB-Hostile STRONGER Patents Act While IAM and Patently-O Continue to Bash PTAB

    The patent microcosm, which compares the Board to the above (crude analogy from Judge Rader and other patent extremists), is still trying to kill inter partes reviews (IPRs), in effect overlooking its own hypocrisy on the matter (they don’t want patent justice, they just want to metaphorically ‘shoot down’ the judges)

  13. 35 U.S.C. § 101 is Still Effectively Tackling Software Patents in the US, But Patent Law Firms Lie/Distort to 'Sell' These Anyway

    The assertion that software patents are still worth pursuing in 2018 is based on carefully-constructed spin which mis-frames several court decisions and underplays/downplays/ignores pretty much everything that does not suit the narrative

  14. Battistelli's EPO Became Extremely Reliant on China for Distraction and on Endless Supply of Applications (Supply Which Doesn't Exist)

    Discussion about the EPO granting machine (or patent-printing machine) and figures the way EPO management would rather the public won't ever see them; the concept that China means redemption for this patent system is as laughable as always

  15. The US International Trade Commission (USITC) Against Comcast, Courtesy of the Intellectual Ventures-Connected Rovi

    The USITC/ITC, which mostly serves to impose embargoes (sometimes in shocking defiance of PTAB decisions), is being invoked by a firm connected to the world’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures

  16. Tinder/Match Group Uses Software Patents to Sue a Rival, Obviously Choosing to Sue in Texas

    Software patents are being used for leverage, but only those which were likely granted before Alice and only in courts at districts somewhere around Texas

  17. Links 19/3/2018: Linux 4.16 RC6, Atom 1.25, antiX 17.1, GNU Mcron 1.1

    Links for the day

  18. From PTAB Bashing to Federal Circuit (CAFC) Bashing: How the Patent 'Industry' Sells Software Patents

    The latest tactics of the patent microcosm are just about as distasteful as last month's (or last year's), with focus shifting to the courts and few broadly-misinterpreted patent cases (mainly Finjan, Berkheimer, and Aatrix)

  19. Patent Maximalists Keep Coming Up With New Terms and Buzzwords to Bypass the Practical Ban on Software Patents

    The fightback against Section 101 and the US Supreme Court (notably Alice) seems to concentrate on old and new buzzwords, such as "Software as a Medical Device" ("SaMD") or "Fourth Industrial Revolution" ("4IR"), which the EPO recently paid European media to spread and promote

  20. News About Patents is Often Just Advertisements Composed Directly or Indirectly by Companies That Sell Patents and Patent Services

    Infomercials are still dominant among news about patents, in effect drowning out the signal (real journalism) and instead pushing agenda that is detached from reality, pertinent facts, objective assessment, public interest and so on

  21. Blocks and Paywalls Won't Protect the Patent Trolls' Lobby From Scrutiny/Fact-Checking

    Joff Wild and Benoît Battistelli have much in common, including patent maximalism and chronic resistance to facts (or fact-checking)

  22. China Has Become Very Aggressive With Patents

    China now targets other Asian countries/firms -- more so than Western firms -- with patent lawsuits; we expect this to get worse in years to come

  23. UPC/Battistelli Booster IAM Blames Brexit Rather Than EPO Abuses

    While the EPO is collapsing due to mismanagement the boosters of Team Battistelli would rather deflect and speak about Brexit, which is itself partly motivated by such mismanagement

  24. European Commission Again Urged to Tackle Abuses at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Rina Ronja Kari is the latest MEP attempting to compel the Commission to actually do something about the EPO other than turning a blind eye

  25. Links 18/3/2018: Wine 3.4, Wine-Staging 3.4, KDE Connect 1.8 for Android

    Links for the day

  26. TXED Courts Are Causing Businesses to Leave the District, Notably For Fear That Having Any Operations Based There is a Legal Liability

    A discussion about the infamous abundance of patent cases in the Eastern District of Texas (TXED/EDTX) and what this will mean for businesses that have branches or any form of operations there (making them subjected to lawsuits in that district even after TC Heartland)

  27. PTAB Hatred is So Intense Among the Patent 'Industry' That Even Scammers Are Hailed as Champions If They Target PTAB

    The patent microcosm is so eager to stop the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that it's supporting sham deals (or "scams") and exploits/distorts the voice of the new USPTO Director to come up with PTAB-hostile catchphrases

  28. The Patent 'Industry' is Increasingly Mocking CAFC and Its Judges Because It Doesn't Like the Decisions

    Judgmental patent maximalists are still respecting high courts only when it suits them; whenever the outcome is not desirable they're willing to attack the legitimacy of the courts and the competence of judges, even resorting to racist ad hominem attacks if necessary

  29. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Carries on Enforcing § 101, Invalidating Software Patents and Upsetting the Patent 'Industry' in the Process

    A quick report on where PTAB stands at the moment, some time ahead of the Oil States decision (soon to come from the US Supreme Court)

  30. Luxembourg Can Become a Hub of Patent Trolls If the EPO Carries on With Its 'Reforms', Even Without the UPC

    With or without the Unified Patent Court (UPC), which is the wet dream of patent trolls and their legal representatives, the EPO's terrible policies have landed a lot of low-quality patents on the hands of patent trolls (many of which operate through city-states that exist for tax evasion -- a fiscal environment ripe for shells)


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time


Recent Posts