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March 31, 2005

Setting the On-Sale Bar - Ping!

Sparton Corporation developed and sold sonobuoys to the U.S. Navy. A sonobuoy is an electroacoustic device for listening to and locating underwater sounds, such as submarine noise.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:31 PM | Litigation

March 30, 2005

Patent protection via diversity of portfolio

A diversified patent portfolio provides defensive strategies against patent infringement accusations and provides offensive strategies allowing a company to exploit a market advantage.

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Posted by Peter Haas at 9:53 AM | Patents In Business

Re-Examination Redemption

Patent litigation defendants, technology companies in particular, are increasingly turning to ex parte (external party) initiation of re-examination to dispose of patents which the courts have found them guilty of infringing. Eolas v. Microsoft and MercExchange v. Ebay are two widely watched patent cases where losing defendants have turned to the patent office in a desperate, last-ditch effort to dodge the infringement bullet.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 3:58 AM | Prosecution

March 29, 2005

District Court Insufficiently Boneheaded

Tranquil Prospects owns 5,222,985 and 4,636,214, about bone prostheses implants. Howmedica Osteonics, staring down the barrel of an infringement assertion gun, popped off the first shot by seeking a declaratory judgment in northern Indiana district court that the claims of both patents were invalid by reason of indefiniteness. One can only suppose that being plaintiff really carries a heavy presumption in northern Indiana.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:06 AM | Claim Construction

March 28, 2005

Online Profiling and Privacy

Amazon.com has been taking flak in the press (MSNBC, Yahoo) from "privacy advocates" for its online personalization patents. "They are constantly finding new ways to exploit personal information," woofed Chris Hoofnagle of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Chris seems a wee pissed about it, but admits to having bigger fish to fry.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:02 AM | Patents In Business

March 26, 2005

Death by Patent?

The effect of patents is typically money changing hands - richer, poorer, but no one dies. Often, as chronicled here and elsewhere, participants in patent disputes behave like silly weasels, more entertaining than consequential to society. Patents are seldom cast as a matter of life or death; but the issue of morality with regard to patents at the moment looms large with the passing of a new patent law in India.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 5:51 PM | International

The Patent Tax

Intermec Technologies and Symbol Technologies Inc. are embroiled in a patent suit/countersuit cook-out. Corporate caterwauls invariably justify themselves in a marketing spin for sympathy, and attempt to pacify understandably skittish stakeholders. In the background, Elvis Costello sings, "you never see the lies that you believe."

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:23 AM | Patents In Business

March 25, 2005

PubPat Spits at Microsoft

The Public Patent Foundation (PubPat), self-proclaimed patent Chicken Little, is blowing the whistle on Microsoft for 6,101,499, titled "Method and computer program product for automatically generating an Internet Protocol (IP) address", a patent granted in August 2000 that's still slumbering.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:01 AM | The Patent System

March 24, 2005

Infringement Damages Primer

Courts are willing to grant a patent holder compensation for all economic losses that are reasonably attributable to infringement, but the patentee shoulders the burden of convincing the court of the causality and measure of loss. More often than not, damage assessment is simplified to a reasonable royalty.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:07 AM | Damages

March 22, 2005

D.C. Patent Troll Hoedown

Patent trolls and their detractors, often the same thing, convened en masse last week in our nation's capitol to lament their own existence. The original patent troll spotter, Peter Detkin, did a fancy lexicographical dance. Only one opinion was not heard: that the U.S. patent system is thriving. Thriving, except for/because of (you decide): patent trolls.

First, a history quiz question: who was the world's most prolific patent troll?

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:02 AM | The Patent System | Comments (2)

March 21, 2005

Bad Memories

Rambus Inc. and Infineon Technologies AG settled their long-running patent battle, agreeing to cross-license. Under the deal, German memory chip maker Infineon will pay Rambus $23.4 million a year for two years in quarterly installments, but gets to drive it away today. After that, Infineon could continue to pay up to $100 million under certain conditions. Rambus generously agreed to treat Infineon as a "most-favored customer."

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:11 PM | Litigation

March 19, 2005

Priming the Pump - Preparing for a Contingency Patent Case

Not many companies will be awoken by a phone call from a patent licensing company, offering a million dollars at a wink for a few patents, as one of my clients was. But some companies could use a wake-up call to monetizing their patents.

Ironically, given that a patent is a monopoly of usage denial, the value of a patent is in its adoption by others. To a patent holder, infringement should be sweet music. The problem is paying the tab for hiring a band to play that tune.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:35 PM | Patents In Business

March 18, 2005

Sticking It In Apple's Ear

Apple Computer may soon think that iPod is an acronym for “ignominious Patents - oh dear”. Two U.S. patents are being asserted against the 21st century Walkman®: 6,587,403 and 6,665,797.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:01 AM | Litigation

March 17, 2005

The Claim Game

A patent’s true value, to provide exclusive territory via a time-limited monopoly, appreciates or diminishes on the scope of its claims. Determining the scope of patent claims, therefore, is crucial. An opinion that, perhaps, will redefine the established guidelines of claim scope interpretation is anxiously awaited from an en banc sitting of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in Phillips v. AWH Corp. To better understand the context of this anxiously awaited opinion, some nuances of claim construction are presented.

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Posted by Peter Haas at 9:14 AM | Claim Construction

March 16, 2005

On the RIM and in the Heartland of Patent Infringement

A settlement in a widely watched patent infringement case - Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), a Canadian-based maker of BlackBerry wireless e-mail devices, will pony up $450 million to NTP, a Virginia company, for infringing NTP's patents.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:46 PM | Litigation

March 15, 2005

Who are the patent trolls?

The oddest thing about the patent game is casting moral aspersion about exercising one's legal rights.

The basic rules are simple: a patent is an alienable right of monopoly, a tradable commodity of the most flexible sort. But, the way the game is played, holding a patent is like owning an oil patch - it takes capital investment to drill for the gusher. Often the capital investment can be quite substantial, to the tune of a few million in litigation fees.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:44 PM | The Patent System | Comments (1)

March 14, 2005

Whence The Patent Prospector

It's a little hard to imagine an attorney who wouldn't enjoy a soapbox, at least once in a while. That's what The Patent Prospector is intended to be, an open forum, for those who don't want to constantly blog, but occasionally chime in.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:29 PM | The Patent System

Handling §103 Rejections

It’s not unusual to receive a 35 U.S.C. §103(a) combination rejection applied with little more than the glib dab of glue: "it would have been obvious". Examiners often implicitly rely upon art class as a binder for justifying combination. Convenient selective quotations are applied for features that wouldn’t mesh if looking at the art holistically. Application out of context is a similar flaw: applying a prior art feature used in a specific way to a claimed invention using a similar feature differently.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:58 PM | Prior Art | Comments (1)