There is a battle cry against abusive litigants in the patent industry. Among the tactics suggested is a “loser pays” system to try to mirror Europe, where this type of abuse is minimal. The Congressional Research Service presents that 92% of companies who assert but do not make products (over broadly and derisively called “trolls”) lose litigation that reaches judgment on the merits… Defendants can call upon the PTO to trigger up front fee shifting for the patent owner and an accelerated PTO determination on the validity, even potentially before the court analyzes it. But there’s more. IPRs and CBMs can be used to drive settlement, either before or after filing. Pre-filing, a drafted petition can be shown to the patent owner as a basis to settle.
J. Posner also brought the value of the patents declared to be essential under standards bodies to bear on the damages question. Essential patents must be evaluated for absolute value and relative value to the full-declared portfolio. These values are needed where a non-linear function is proposed for a royalty determination based on infringement of a subset of the declared patents. The difficulty presented by an assertion of a single essential patent from a much larger portfolio is “that if [the potential licensee] had wanted to license any of the patents in [the standard’s essential portfolio], the license fee would have exceeded the product of the percentage of the portfolio represented by the patent and the value of the entire portfolio.” Objective data to present a non-linear function was needed, and even where presented, the notion of a FRAND royalty applied to “confine the patentee’s royalty demand to the value conferred by the patent itself as distinct from the additional value – the hold-up value – conferred by the patent’s being designated as standards essential.”
The question may arise – what if the result of crowdsourcing is less than the proverbial “smoking gun,” can it place the App Developers at a disadvantage in court? Case law indicates that the answer is no. Last year, in a patent litigation brought by Personal Audio LLC, the plaintiff attempted to argue that their patent was valid based on crowdsourced research and to seek discovery on this basis. Personal Audio lost on both counts, with federal Judge Miriam Cedarbaum concluding, “eliminating a negative doesn’t show validity” and commenting on the patent owner’s approach with the statement “that’s what I call desperation.” Transcript of Oral Argument and Decision at 12-13 and 14, Personal Audio LLC v. Sirius XM Radio, Inc. et al, No. M8-85 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 2, 2010).