02.16.18

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Patent Trolls Are Thwarted by Judges, But Patent Lawyers View Them as a ‘Business’ Opportunity

Posted in America, Patents at 4:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Law firms in various states hope that the demise of the Eastern District of Texas will mean more lawsuits where they are

USA map

Summary: Patent lawyers are salivating over the idea that trolls may be coming to their state/s; owing to courts and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) other trolls’ software patents get invalidated

AS NOTED in the last post, patents granted by the USPTO are often passed to trolls sooner or later. The trolls would like to think of themselves as “monetisers”, but all they really do is tax the economy. That does not help innovation or creativity; it merely crushes both. TC Heartland, a Supreme Court decision from about 9 months ago, continues to worry firms that profit from patent trolls and aggressors. One of them, writing in lawyers’ media, expressed a common lawyers’ concern that patent litigation is declining (true story), then expressing optimism about trolls coming ‘home’ to Georgia:

Is patent litigation coming home to Georgia? Last year the U.S. Supreme Court holding in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods Grp. Brands significantly affected the law of venue jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b) for patent infringement cases. One result was to shift new patent complaint filings away from federal district courts that had been perceived to be plaintiff-friendly, such as the Eastern District of Texas, as I recently wrote in the Daily Report. TC Heartland only clarified one of the tests for patent venue in § 1400(b), holding that the provision “where the defendant resides” is limited to only the district where the defendant is incorporated.

[...]

The year 2018 will likely bring resolution to some of these issues – and more patent litigation to Georgia. I believe we can expect at least one, but perhaps two precedential Federal Circuit decisions further clarifying “where” a defendant committed an act of infringement, with one or both relating to software method and pharmaceutical patent infringement.

Watch their glee. They want lots and lots of lawsuits. That’s business to them. Never mind if the Eastern District of Texas was a cautionary tale and the Eastern District of Texas became synonymous with trolls, discouraging technical investment in the area (companies might think twice before opening a branch near there).

Georgia has some decent academic institutions (one very famous university, especially for its technical achievements), so we hope that Georgians will confront these legal opportunists.

Not too long ago in California Cloudflare spent a lot of time and money battling a patent troll. It took almost a year to win the case. SoylentNews mentioned that, as did TechDirt, writing about it with some background:

Last year, we wrote about how a relatively new patent trolling operation had pretty clearly picked the wrong target in suing internet infrastructure provider Cloudflare with a sketchy patent (US Patent 6,453,335 on “providing an internet third party data channel.”) Cloudflare decided not only to fight the case, but to fight all of Blackbird’s patents, crowdsourcing and funding searches into prior art on any patent held by Blackbird Technologies, and arguing that the company was engaging in questionable legal practices — acting both as a patent holding company and a law firm, while sometimes pretending not to be a law firm (despite employing mostly lawyers) to avoid some serious ethics questions.

We certainly hope that § 101 will carry on finishing off patent trolls. This was one such case. Ars Technica, which now lacks its main patent trolls expert (he moved to the EFF this month) wrote about it also. To quote:

A federal judge in San Francisco has unequivocally ruled against a non-practicing entity that had sued Cloudflare for patent infringement. The judicial order effectively ends the case that Blackbird—which Cloudflare had dubbed a “patent troll”—had brought against the well-known security firm and content delivery network.

“Abstract ideas are not patentable,” US District Judge Vincent Chhabria wrote in a Monday order.

Abstract ideas are a subject we’ll revisit this weekend.

Another patent troll which got mentioned the other day is Motivational Health Messaging. Unified Patents wrote about the status of the patent in question. The EFF’s role has been mentioned too:

Unified is pleased to announce the PATROLL crowdsourcing contest winners, Rohit Sood and Devarajan Govindaswamy, who split a cash prize of $2000 for their prior art submissions for U.S. Patent 9,069,648. The EFF previously named the ’648 patent as a ‘Stupid Patent of the Month’ noting that numerous small companies have been threatened with infringement allegations by Motivational Health Messaging, LLC (an NPE). To help the industry fight stupid patents, we have published the winning prior art below.

Another troll, Wordlogic, was mentioned by Unified Patents on the same day (lovers’ day). To quote:

On February 14, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instituted trial on all challenged claims in an IPR filed by Unified against U.S. Patent 7,681,124 owned and asserted by Wordlogic Corporation, an NPE. The ’124 patent, directed to a user interface for predicting and presenting text completion candidates in response to a user’s partial text entry, has been asserted in multiple district court cases against such companies as Fleksy, Touchtype, Chicago Logic.

PTAB is great and we have plenty to write about it this weekend.

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