January 30, 2006
Microsoft Office Update
Last July, Guatemalan native Carlos Armando Amado nailed Microsoft $8.9 million for infringing 5,537,590, inter-application linking technology which Microsoft had incorporated into its ubiquitous Office suite. At the time of the ruling, Microsoft crooned that "we do not believe today's verdict will have any impact on our customers." Today, Microsoft is singing a different tune.
RIM in the Mail
Fortinet Bows To Trend Micro
January 26, 2006
The Cure for Junk Patents: Old Hat
The Wall Street Journal yesterday hit the nail on the head: "In Patent Disputes, A Scramble to Prove Ideas Are Old Hat." Silliness aside, and there are a lot of silly patents (see Patently Silly), junk patents most commonly originate because adequate prior art search isn't done during examination. To compound the problem, patent owners trot to court without vetting their wares, potentially costing millions in attorneys fees that can go up in smoke. For professional prior art searchers, finding old hats that kill patents is where the action is.
January 25, 2006
Nellcor Bites The Bullet
Facing a permanent injunction, and so biting the patent infringement bullet that delusional RIM (v. NTP) still thinks it can miraculously dodge, Nellcor, a division of Tyco Healthcare, itself a subsidiary of industrial conglomerate Tyco International, has agreed to fork over $330 million for infringing medical device patents owned by privately-held mighty mouse Masimo.
January 24, 2006
United States Surgical appealed a lower court patent infringement decision in favor of Applied Medical over 5,385,553, feeling a bit put out about the $64.5 million judgment for enhanced willful infringement damages, the vig (known as "interest" to you non-mafioso), and attorneys fees. Scalpel not in evidence, the CAFC (05-1149) used a blunt instrument.
January 22, 2006
Bioprospecting is the technological art of refining biological entities, mostly plant-derived, into patents, and spinning those into a fattened bank account. And it's pissing off the natives, who for thousands of years knew of these plants, even cultivated hybrids using classic techniques explained to Westerners by Gregor Mendel (the white geezer at right), but knew not how to score wads o' moola out of them.
January 20, 2006
The CAFC is letting Microsoft appeal its request for a new judge in the Eolas case, where Microsoft still faces being dinged one-half billion dollars. Trial judge James Zagel had refused Microsoft special treatment. How dare he.
January 19, 2006
Back in the late 1970s, Fredric Stern was a medical student at Columbia University. He approached a long-time faculty member, Lazlo Bito, about doing a single semester ophthalmology research elective in his laboratory. Bito agreed, and directed Stern to begin his project by reviewing Bito’s numerous papers on prostaglandins and glaucoma. Then Bito had Stern run some experiments.
Biotechnology giants Dow Chemical and Monsanto have inked a wide-ranging patent cross-licensing agreement, and withdrawing from their meddling with each other's patents. The corporate Hatfield-McCoy feud is finally settled; thar's peace on the farm at last.
January 18, 2006
Genesis of a Hack Job
Received an email from Andrew Brandt, writer for PC World. "I'm working on a news story about how the flood of technology patents is affecting computer users. We're looking to focus on examples of "bad" patents that adversely affect innovation, raise costs for consumers, or make basic tasks more difficult or complicated for the average computer user." Oh boy.
The Patent Office's Oops Program
The USPTO is extending indefinitely its pilot program of mini-appeals, which is estimated to save applicants wrongly rejected at least $30 million annually. The program's success points out the patent office's failure. As John Doll, commissioner for patent resources and planning, confessed, "The success of this program shows the patent office was making rejections that should not have been made."
January 17, 2006
Xerox, a name once so powerful that the company had to fight losing their trademark because it had become synonymous with the photocopies their machines produced, became blindsided by market changes, its business crashed, but is now like a phoenix rising, thanks to patents.
January 16, 2006
EU - Third Time's Charm?
In a bid for rationality, the European Commission (EC) is trying again to harmonize patents throughout Europe. Currently, according to a recent European Union (EU) survey, under the current regime requiring separate registration in each member state, to register a patent across the EU costs four to six times what it costs in the U.S.
January 14, 2006
Doubtlessly fishing for business, patent proofreading firm Intellevate crowed that 98% of issued patents contain human error. Absolutely fishing for business, Patent Hawk cut loose that over 40% of the litigated patents investigated by the firm are lousy for big reason #1: they're invalid.
January 11, 2006
Microsoft's FAT patents are back, invincible. 5,579,517 & 5,758,352, the FAT twins, have survived reexamination, sparked by patent curmudgeon PubPat. Linux supporters quiver, with good reason - Linux infringes the FAT boys.
Fifteen years running, Oblon Spivak has topped the list of law firms in getting U.S. utility patents granted, and, based on published application numbers, expects the streak to continue at least a few years longer.
HP Comes Around on Patents
This week, the list of top US receivers of patents was released. The list contained the usual suspects, including HP. It was not too long ago, HP made news saying that it was hell bent on gaining the top spot on this list. As a result they went on a patent writing bender. This was at the same time when they were streamlining their R&D staff and asking them to focus on near term opportunities.
January 10, 2006
The CAFC turned down a request for an en banc hearing in Union Carbide v. Shell (CAFC 04-1475o) to consider whether § 271(f) applies to method/process inventions, having previously decided it does. The dissent made a lot of sense.
Asian companies continue to show patenting strength in the U.S., according to figures just released by the USPTO. While IBM is still top dog, five of the top ten patenting companies are Japanese, with a Korean sitting in the middle.
January 9, 2006
nCube sued SeaChange for infringing 5,805,804. In a jury trial, SeaChange got nailed badly: SeaChange had to pay double the damages for willful infringement, and two-thirds of nCube's attorneys fees. So SeaChange asked for a new trial, was turned down, and so appealed (CAFC 03-1341); to no avail.
Claim Scope Per Disclosure Redux
LizardTech got its wavelet compression patent dubbed by the CAFC (05-1062 panel) for overreaching in its claim beyond its specification, when only one embodiment had been disclosed. So, desperate, LizardTech appealed for an en banc hearing (05-1062 en banc); request denied. But in its snub, the CAFC put on a little fireworks show between the ruling majority and dissenters.
January 7, 2006
Patent Statistics Update
Granted patents & lawsuits are down while application filings rise. Small business and individual inventors, "the little guy", dominate high technology patenting, but have a tough road to hoe in profiting from their inventions.
Backlash to USPTO Cracking the Whip
Patent prosecutors across the country are echoing Patent Hawk in crying foul at the patent office for unfairly shifting the burden of examination onto prosecutors, limiting examinations, and hurting the prospects for deserved patent protection.
January 6, 2006
Patent Reform Coming Together?
Divergent legislative styles in the U.S. House & Senate may dim the prospect of patent reform legislation passage in 2006.
January 5, 2006
InterVideo Persuades ITC
Following up on an earlier story, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has agreed to investigate InterVideo's patent infringement accusation against computer maker Dell and three other companies. Intervideo seeks a permanent injunction.
January 4, 2006
The USPTO is aiming to cut its backlog by limiting continuations. The patent office is burden shifting, at the potential sacrifice of fertile inventors losing some of their patent rights.
January 3, 2006
Patent Suits Drop in 2005
2005 witnessed an 11% decline in new patent lawsuits from 2004, breaking a decade-long trend, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Eight out of the top ten IP case payouts were settled out of court, indicating that companies continue to use the courts to put the writing on the wall, but then settle when that writing becomes clear.
January 2, 2006
Rates Gone Ape
Immodest New-York based Rates Technology Inc. (RTI) is suing Google for five billion dollars for its VOIP Google Talk, as well as going after other companies, for infringing telephone billing patents 5,425,085 & 5,519,769. RTI is going to give patent trolls a bad name.