Supreme Court Ruling Supports Apple's Long-Running Fight Against Patent Trolls

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The Supreme Court yesterday made it a few steps easier for technology companies like Apple to challenge lawsuits from "patent assertion businesses," or patent trolls. The decision implemented part of a 2011 law that created "quicker and cheaper" avenues into contesting patents with the Patent Office, instead of having to delve into a lengthy court battle or face a federal judge (via The Wall Street Journal).

This way, companies like Apple -- who face patent trolls frequently -- could easily argue against unseemly patent lawsuits in far less time, and without spending as much money.

Speaking for the court system, Justice Stephen Breyer said that the new ruling in favor of the Patent Office approach will help "to protect the public" since it'll prevent potential patent trolls from claiming overly broad patents that "might discourage the use of the invention by a member of the public."
The 2011 law created quicker and cheaper procedures for contesting patents in front of the Patent Office instead of in front of a federal judge. But some argued the procedures overcompensated and made patents too vulnerable. That is because the Patent Office adopted challenger-friendly legal standards that were different than those used in courts.

The Supreme Court acknowledged the Patent Office rules depart from those used in court, but said the agency had taken a reasonable approach.
So far, cases emerging from the Patent Office are said to rule largely in favor of the individual or company contesting the patent. According to recent government data, a reported 80 percent of the trials completed so far through the Patent Office board have seen the cancellation of the patent in question.

Apple is nearly constantly in the news surrounding various lawsuits and litigation updates, a large sum of which are usually centered around companies that claim they are "absolutely not" a patent troll. The new ruling should help alleviate the headache and streamline the contesting process for some of these cases made against the company.

Article Link: Supreme Court Ruling Supports Apple's Long-Running Fight Against Patent Trolls
 

Jared Strike

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Aug 10, 2013
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Provide patent trolls or companies a set period of time to productise their patents or they lose them. Problem solved.
Just like the term "Patent Pending" where just because you have this mark doesn't mean it's a valid patent, and that after a specific number of days you lose the patent if you do not finish the process. Patent pending should mean the next step is actual production of the said product otherwise the patent pending mark gets dropped and is free for anyone else to pick it back up.
 
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JGRE

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About time, these most often ridiculous claims should be vanished. B.t.w., not only against patent trolls but also against other general nature patents from other companies (even Apple).
Even for rightful patents, there should be a reasonable period of time, after this period, the patient should no longer be valid. It completely stupid, some companies claiming millions and sometimes billions for some basic stuff "invented" in the eighties. You cannot keep holding a claim for ever for some simple protocol just because you were the first.
 

WrQth

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Jul 23, 2010
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This is a good thing. The Patent Office grants the patents in the first place so they should be the ones to review and invalidate patents since their job is to understand them best.
 

mschmalenbach

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Jul 22, 2008
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Whoever gains the patent, or even just files it, should be under no obligation to use it or not. This is not the purpose of the patent system.

What IS the issue, I believe, is in abusing your position as the patent holder, and THAT is what can stymie use of patents and the other problems already listed elsewhere.

Part of this can be addressed by not giving patents out for applications that are questionable even to a lay person like me... like patenting some part of the human or any other genome for example!
 

oneMadRssn

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I agree the patent system needs some reform, but this decision is not good for the small guys, and only good for the big mega corporations. All it does is ensure that only the wealthiest deep-pocketed companies with a war chest of hundreds or thousands of patents can benefit and reap their rewards and protections. Small companies or individuals without millions of dollars to spare and under a dozen patents might as well not even bother anymore. It's a shame.

Also, I am not happy with Breyer yesterday. First he writes that making it easier to invalidate patents is "good for the public" (it's not, it's only good for big companies), then he goes on and signs on to an opinion that says it's totally okay for cops to do undeniably illegal stops and seizures. This is not liberalism, it's idiocy.
 
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thisisnotmyname

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About time, these most often ridiculous claims should be vanished. B.t.w., not only against patent trolls but also against other general nature patents from other companies (even Apple).
Even for rightful patents, there should be a reasonable period of time, after this period, the patient should no longer be valid. It completely stupid, some companies claiming millions and sometimes billions for some basic stuff "invented" in the eighties. You cannot keep holding a claim for ever for some simple protocol just because you were the first.
we should just pick a time, like 16 years, and then after than the patent is not longer valid (hint, they expire after 16 years).
 

pat500000

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They just need to fight for their patent through old school way, street fight.
Or Obama could implement Roman style gladiator fight with maces, swords, lions....
 

thisisnotmyname

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Also, I am not happy with Breyer yesterday. First he writes that making it easier to invalidate patents is "good for the public" (it's not, it's only good for big companies), then he goes on and signs on to an opinion that says it's totally okay for cops to do undeniably illegal stops and seizures. This is not liberalism, it's idiocy.
Judges aren't politicians. Just ask conservatives what they think of Kennedy or thought of O'Conner or how they like Roberts on the ACA. The list goes on and on for both sides. Judges - when performing their duties properly - aren't advocates for liberalism or conservatism, they judge.
 

oneMadRssn

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Judges aren't politicians. Just ask conservatives what they think of Kennedy or thought of O'Conner or how they like Roberts on the ACA. The list goes on and on for both sides. Judges - when performing their duties properly - aren't advocates for liberalism or conservatism, they judge.
That is certainly how it should be. However, Breyer is consistently labeled as the most "liberal" judge, and folks from all political spectrum think judicial advocacy is a real thing that does happen.

If he was merely judging, he should not have signed on to an opinion that goes against prior precedent concerning evidence obtained from illegal searches and goes against the very letter of the fourth amendment; and he should not have invoked "public policy," which is what legislators are supposed to consider in writing laws, in supporting his patent decision.
 

AtomicDusk

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Jul 24, 2014
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Provide patent trolls or companies a set period of time to productise their patents or they lose them. Problem solved.
What about research universities that create patents which they may license as a revenue stream for further research? Would licensing of a patent fall under the category of producing upon the patent?
 
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Kabeyun

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Just like the term "Patent Pending" where just because you have this mark doesn't mean it's a valid patent, and that after a specific number of days you lose the patent if you do not finish the process. Patent pending should mean the next step is actual production of the said product otherwise the patent pending mark gets dropped and is free for anyone else to pick it back up.
This doesn't really apply to entities that apply for new parents. That's fine. This applies to entities whose business model is to acquire patent portfolios with the goal of earning money by (extorting or) suing individuals and companies who they feel infringe.
 

CarlJ

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This is possibly a good ruling, but it would be even better if the patent office stopped issuing patents for things that are already commonplace or that are an obvious next step from current common designs (part of the fundamental idea of patents is that they cover ideas that are non-obvious). It was supposed to cover the situation where one person really had thought of a solution to a problem that nobody else had come up with. That sometimes still happens. But all too often we have a situation where hundreds of people, presented with the same problem/conditions, come up with the same obvious solution (and hundreds more will reach that same solution to the same problem in the future), but one of those first hundred people got a patent on it, so nobody else can use that solution. It's like telling people, "okay, do math, but, oh, by the way, even numbers have been patented, so you can only use odd numbers from now on". This is not a situation that encourages innovation, which was the original intent. The patent office needs serious upgrading.

The other thing that really needs to happen: that district in East Texas, where all these things seem to get filed (because they take a _much_ more favorable view of patent trolls)? They seriously need to be shut down, and investigated to see if there's any impropriety taking place. At a minimum, take away their ability to handle this kind of case for the next 17 years. It can't be just a coincidence that ALL the patent trolls love this particular court.
 

oneMadRssn

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The other thing that really needs to happen: that district in East Texas, where all these things seem to get filed (because they take a _much_ more favorable view of patent trolls)? They seriously need to be shut down, and investigated to see if there's any impropriety taking place. At a minimum, take away their ability to handle this kind of case for the next 17 years. It can't be just a coincidence that ALL the patent trolls love this particular court.
They like EDTX because (1) it's fast, the judges know the patent law very well there, (2) the dockets aren't pushed back as there is not much crime there, so civil cases are not put on the back burner as much, (3) the juries in that area tend to have a very USA-is-the-greatest mentality, and thus really love hearing stories of American inventors being harmed by the big bad Asian manufacturing companies and they want to correct that harm, and (4) the judges tend not to dismiss the cases early and thus let them go to trial.

(1) and (2) are a good thing for everyone. It saves on legal fees for all parties involved. (3) is a good for plaintiffs, but there isn't really anything constitutional you can do about it, you can't screen juries for this. (4) is good for both parties, may be better for plaintiffs, but can be good for aggressive will-not-settle-for-anything defendants as well.

That said, all statistical analysis says that for those cases that make it through the end of trial, the outcomes in EDTX are not significantly different than any other district.
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we should just pick a time, like 16 years, and then after than the patent is not longer valid (hint, they expire after 16 years).
Utility patents expire 20 years after filing date, provided the periodic maintenance fees are paid on time.
Design patents expire 15 years after issuance date, provided the periodic maintenance fees are paid on time.
 
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2457282

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Time will tell how this all plays out. Apple too has a ton of patents that can be question and which they lose in this process. The key will be whether this Spurs innovation or if it stifles it. Hoping for the former.
 

theluggage

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Jul 29, 2011
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Apple are the biggest patent trolls on the planet.
No. The worst patent trolls are the "non-practicing entities" (NPEs) that don't actually produce anything, but collect patents (e.g. by buying them in bankruptcy fire sales) and hoard them against the day that someone actually puts in the work and investment to produce a successful product - then pop out from under the bridge and demand license fees or launch lawsuits. Litigation and licensing is a NPEs sole business model.

Some people's definition of patent troll specifically refers to NPEs.

We can question the validity of the patents they try to assert against (e.g.) Samsung, we can question whether anybody should have software patents, but at least Apple actually makes and sells products and services incorporating their patents and can plausibly claim to be protecting their investment in R&D when they sue. Apple occasionally gets a dose of their own medicine when they violate someone else's patent - NPEs are immune to this because he who makes no products violates no patents.

NPEs/Trolls aren't the only problem with patents, of course - the whole concept is immoral and impossible to implement fairly. Microsoft, for example, gets a nice slice of Android sales via patent licenses (despite repeatedly failing to produce a mobile operating system that anybody actually wants to buy) and tried to smother Linux by claiming to have lots of patents covering Linux - without actually revealing what they were.
 
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Sedulous

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Dec 10, 2002
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I'm so happy this headline says patent trolls.
I don't think that means what you think. Patent trolls sit on a collection of [often dubious] patents and simply seek licensing fees. Apple actually makes products.