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May 18, 2009

Projecting Junk

The lament by so-called patent reformers is that pissant patent holders assert junk patents. Well, so do supposedly respectable companies. Seiko Epson sued Coretronic for patents related to display projectors for DVD players and computers. Coretronic counter-claimed with its own patents. Now, thanks to prior art search by the other side, all seven patents involved have been dropped or ruled invalid in summary judgment. One of Epson's patents was ruled a clunker in light of one of its own products.

O'Melveny & Myers and Oliff & Berridge represent Epson. Alston & Bird represents Coretronic. Tidy work on the defense, lousy job on the offense.

Posted by Patent Hawk at May 18, 2009 7:40 PM | Litigation


Not surprising. When I worked for Intel and was involved in their process for generating patent applications, we were told "If you're not already aware of any prior art and believe your invention is novel, don't look for any." This advice seemed to be based on a belief that an incomplete search was worse than no search at all, because an incomplete (or incompetent) search could somehow lead to an accusation of inequitable conduct.

Posted by: Carl Strathmeyer at May 19, 2009 7:37 AM

Like the Hawk, I've been known to tap away at the keyboard in search of invalidating art and cases like this keep me amused.

I wonder how much money Epson spent litigating with their not-so-valid patents? Did they even do a validity search on their own art before printing up the cease and desist or just assume that a PTO issuance equaled gold? And if they did, was it done by a real professional or by a first year associate at the firm? Live and learn, I guess/hope.

Has anybody noticed that the folks in favor of strong patent protection (bio/chem/pharma) have strong in-house patent searching teams? And they take the drafting of valid patents very seriously. Almost like they treat patents as important business rather than a game...

Posted by: Public Searcher DIP at May 19, 2009 11:41 AM

Thank you searcher... Yours is an unsung and thankless job, except for the paycheck, but one that is highly underrated. Just look at any Office Action these days and you will see that the Examiner has just plugged a few terms from the claims into the system (or maybe even that process is automated by now) and probably has not even scanned over the references. Its not surprising that better art is usually always lurking "out there."

It is high time that practitioners in-house and outside start taking their jobs waaay more seriously. The days of, oh I don't know, say in-house counsel avoiding the hard work of analyzing the legitimacy of claims of infringement by setting up anonymous blogs and the like in an attempt to discredit plaintiffs, or of counsel responding to Office Actions with "boilerplate" language are over.

The last decade or so seems to have introduced a lot of mouth breathers into the profession thinking that the job is some kind of cake walk.

I look forward with great hope that those types will be vigorously shaken out of the profession.

Posted by: Just sayin' at May 19, 2009 8:54 PM

...And that the practice of patent law will again bear the sweet fruit of satisfaction for those that remain.

Posted by: Just sayin' at May 19, 2009 8:56 PM