Thursday, September 26, 2013

NYT Article - Tech Giants Fear Spread of Patent Wars to Europe?

In Tech Giants Fear Spread of Patent Wars to Europe, the NY Times reports certain tech companies wrote a letter to European Officials that expresses concern patent trolls will take advantage of a unified patent court slated to open in Europe in 2015.

The article says "executives of some of the companies that sent the letter said one of their concerns was that court-shopping by patent trolls in some smaller European countries could turn parts of the Continent into the equivalent of the Eastern District of Texas. That federal court jurisdiction has become an American capital of patent litigation known for sympathetic juries and speedily moving cases." So do I have this right? One of their concerns is the Eastern District of France in 2015?

More seriously, the tech companies letter raises some good points: bifurcation of infringement from validity in different courts might enable an unscrupulous plaintiff to get a infringement ruling, along with an injunction barring products from most of Europe market, before validity is determined. Although we don't have this problem we do have courts finding infringement following by the USPTO holding the patent invalid in reexamination and post-grant proceedings. Also the letter mentions the problem of injunctive relief being used to extract excessive royalties from companies fearing business disruption.

I am not sure this letter expresses much confidence in Europe's ability to identify and handle these types of problems. On the other hand, US companies tend to be on the cutting edge for patent problems and understandably want to pass along what has been painful in the States.

Thanks to Alan Cooper for the article!

Copyright © 2013 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.