Saturday, June 30, 2018

NY Times - Apple and Samsung End Smartphone Patent War

In Apple and Samsung End Smartphone Patent War, the NY Times argues the patent war that began in 2011 was a waste because the technology is outdated and became largely a fight about money rather than an exclusion of infringing Samsung phones.

This article doesn't make sense to me. Successful tech companies management would not engage in patent litigation unless it was economically rational. So should we jump in after the fact and speculate they after careful consideration wasted time and money? One way to consider if it is wasteful is to take the value of infringing a patent multiplied by the probability of a successful defense. If that product is greater than the cost of defense, the defendant should litigate as a matter of economics. This appears to be Samsung's approach. I am not sure how they conclude hundreds of millions were spent on defense even after seven years of patent litigation. On the other hand, if you own patents like Apple and are a marketplace leader, you would be rational to enforce the patents against others copying or infringing to catch up. Otherwise you encourage many others to free ride off your R&D.

Samsung had seven years of patent litigation and setbacks and victories that should have been opportunities to settle the cases. Yet Samsung didn't and managed to whittle down the damage awards. However, a jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple $539 million for patent infringement in May. This is a large value for infringing the patents, the defense had failed, and shortly after Samsung settles. Santa Clara University law professor Brian Love claims the litigation "didn't really accomplish anything" because "at the end of the day, no products went off the market." I have trouble accepting this "didn't really accomplish anything" given the likelihood substantial money was transferred to Apple in settlement after the $539 million award. Finally, the Apple and Samsung phones contain the patented technologies the article says is long outdated. Again, nothing in the article to support this claim.

Rutgers law professor Michael Carrier saying "the case is likely to serve as a lesson that 'the courtroom is not always the place to try to get ahead" sounds right but to me Apple was not trying to get ahead; Samsung was trying to catch up and decided to infringe/copy patented features and Apple said not so fast and sued after failing to reach a settlement.

Professor Carrier's statement "there’s always the trade-off between litigation and innovation, and in the time these companies spent in the courtroom, they weren’t innovating." This lost time idea might make more sense for a small company but appears inapplicable to Samsung and Apple given that large tech companies largely insulate key innovators from the litigation. Moreover, reasonable litigation of patent rights should protect the incentive to innovate.

Copyright © 2018 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

USPTO - Proposes Changes to the Claim Construction in Trial Proceedings Before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board

The USPTO is proposing changes favorable to patent owners with regard to claim construction in the following Patent Office proceedings: (1) inter partes review (IPR), (2) post-grant review (PGR), and (3) the transitional program for covered business method patents (CBM) proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

As stated in the regulatory notice: the USPTO "proposes to replace the broadest reasonable interpretation (“BRI”) standard for construing unexpired patent claims and proposed claims in these trial proceedings with a standard that is the same as the standard applied in federal district courts and International Trade Commission (“ITC”) proceedings. The Office also proposes to amend the rules to add that the Office will consider any prior claim construction determination concerning a term of the involved claim in a civil action, or an ITC proceeding, that is timely made of record in an IPR, PGR, or CBM proceeding."

If this change is implemented, it should be more difficult for a challenger to invalidate patent claims in certain cases, which may be reasonable given patent owners are rarely afforded the opportunity to amend claims in Patent Office proceedings to date.

See the USPTO Notice of Proposed Rule Making.

Also see U.S. Supreme Court's prior decision in Cuozzo Speed Technologies v. Lee that affirmed PTAB's use of the broadest reasonable interpretation of the claims in inter partes review.

Copyright © 2018 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 11, 2018

IP Watchdog - Iancu: People have a right to know what is patent eligible

Today, Gene Quinn posted an article: Iancu: People have a right to know what is patent eligible that should encourage those dealing with the current law of patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. 101.

"Director Iancu would go through the list of things we collectively understand are not patent eligible, such as isolated DNA, gravity and the like.

'Let’s be transparent,' Iancu said. 'Let’s make a list.'

'What is it that we want to exclude from patenting, people should know up front,' Iancu said forcefully.

'We must be careful to not overread the Supreme Court’s exclusions,' Iancu said before quoting the Supreme Court recognizing that their tests could if applied expansively swallow all of patent law.

'Why not simplify,' Iancu asked."

I like where our USPTO Director Iancu is going, but think if and when Congress, the courts, and the USPTO put together an "exclusion list" we would then hear much disputing on whether a given invention is "on" or "off" the list.

Congress and the Supreme Court need to reconsider whether or not 35 U.S.C. 101 should  have vaguely defined judge made exclusions to patent eligibility. It does not track the language of the statute and look how much uncertainty it has generated. I don't think everything man thinks up should get patent protection. However, we can exclude what shouldn't receive patent protection by comparing a claimed invention to prior technology, and by applying the substantial body of case law set forth in 35 U.S.C. 102 and 35 U.S.C. 103. Otherwise, we may continue to watch the courts stretch the language of 35 U.S.C. 101 under Alice/Mayo test to encompass novelty under 35 U.SC. 102 and non-obviousness under 35 U.S.C. 103.

Copyright © 2018 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.