02.17.18

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With Stambler v Mastercard, Patent Maximalists Are Hoping to Prop Up Software Patents and Damage PTAB

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 12:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“…patents for some technical sectors have been somewhat deprecatorily called by Mark Lemley and Carl Shapiro, a “lottery ticket”,” Neil Wilkof wrote before the weekend.

Gambling
Summary: The patent ‘industry’ is hoping to persuade the highest US court to weaken the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), for PTAB is making patent lawsuits a lot harder and raises the threshold for patent eligibility

THE patent maximalists in the United States want us to believe that the more patents are granted and the more lawsuits are filed, the greater the “innovation” will be (they just can’t help misusing such buzzwords*). The USPTO uses similar claims to justify never-ending expansion (e.g. number of granted patents). Suffice to say, that’s just a bubble.

Found via several patent maximalists such as this one was this new post in which Dennis Crouch (part of the patent microcosm) said: “The case relates to Stambler’s U.S. Patent No. 5,793,302 (authentication system and method). The patent has been asserted in dozens of cases and upheld in several court decisions prior to the PTAB finding it invalid.”

Oil States is an anti-PTAB case which we expect to see ruled in favour of PTAB some time later this year.”This is about Stambler v Mastercard, a case which the patent maximalists will be trying to bring to the Justices. Why? Because it’s a potentially anti-PTAB case. Groups such as the EFF will hopefully submit oppositions if possible. From the petition: “The first question is substantially similar to that presented in Oil States Energy Servs., LLC v. Greene’s Energy Grp., LLC, No. 16-712 (June 12, 2017), which has been argued and is awaiting decision by the Court. The second question is identical to that presented by the Petition for writ of certiorari in Celgard, LLC v. Matal (No. 16-1526) (question #2, petition pending).”

Oil States is an anti-PTAB case which we expect to see ruled in favour of PTAB some time later this year. We’ll say a lot more about PTAB tomorrow and on Monday. Oppositions to PTAB continue to slow down (losing momentum); the patent microcosm may have given up trying.

“…the barrier for (court) entry has been raised, which is probably bad news for lawyers but good news for everybody else.”The gold rush for low-quality patents was a bubble in the making. IAM has just published a puff piece/ad for its partner Clarivate, which measures companies in terms of patents, but what sorts of patents? Nowadays we see a lot of these patents imploding; PTAB and the courts do this. Unified Patents said in its Web site yesterday that it wants to educate law students on PTAB practice. Unified Patents itself extensively utilises PTAB to eliminate software patents. As they put it yesterday:

Unified Patents recently launched its 2nd public law school project to curb patent abuse against SMEs. In conjunction with University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and Brooks Kushman, Unified is working to help educate students on PTAB practice.

PTAB is, in our view, like a cleanup mechanism within the USPTO itself. “IP Edge managing director Gautham Bodepudi,” as IAM described him yesterday, suggests that “plaintiffs in US patent cases who understand the odds of victory are almost always best off settling” (not direct quote). IAM even used the word “trolls” (in relation to patent trolls):

The vast majority of patent disputes in the US settle before they end up in court. One reason for this, it is claimed, is because scared defendants are worried into making suits go away by aggressive plaintiffs (trolls) who give them a choice of settlement at one price or fighting a suit at a higher price. And, undoubtedly, there is an element of that involved.

However, there is a lot more on top. For example, looking from the plaintiff’s perspective there are also significant disincentives to take a fight all the way – especially against deep pocket corporate opponents.

According to some recent figures, about two-thirds of patent aggression bouts go unnoticed because they never reach the courts and the public might therefore not find out about them (unless a press release is issued). One way to look at it is, the aggressors are scared of the courts (or PTAB); another is, the accused/defendant is scared of litigation. Either way, the barrier for (court) entry has been raised, which is probably bad news for lawyers but good news for everybody else.
_____
* The embrace of buzzwords can also be seen here. “AI” is an old hype wave resurrected (we presume by corporate marketing people along with gullible ‘journalists’ looking for popular key terms). It’s also propped up by the patent ‘industry’ in order to paint software patents as ‘novel’ (when they’re not).

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