Paul Morinville is the Founder and former President of US Inventor, Inc., which is an inventor organization in Washington D.C. that advocates strong patent protection for inventors and startups. Paul has been as executive at multiple technology startups including computer hardware, enterprise middleware and video compression software in the U.S. and China, and now medical devices.
The PREVAIL Act addresses current rules that enable gamesmanship at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) by huge corporations against small inventors, startups and other patent owners, and that increase invalidation rates. It introduces standing requirements, establishes a clear and convincing evidence standard to invalidate a patent, ensures a code of conduct is put in place for administrative patent judges (APJs), and more. While these changes are well-intended, due to the PTAB’s perverse incentive structure, the PREVAIL Act will only be marginally effective, and may have no real effect at all.
In 2015, China launched its 2025 Initiative listing all the technologies and industries it wants to control by 2025. So far, they have been successful in leading 37 of 44 technologies critical to economic growth and national security. The nation that dominates these technologies will determine the fate of all nations. In the past, the United States led the world in technology, but today it is China. How did this happen? This damage was caused by a series of big hits by the courts, congress and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The first big hit was eBay vs. MercExchange (eBay) in 2006. In order to obtain an injunction, a patent holder must prove that they not only have a patented product on the market, but also the ability to distribute that product. eBay let loose massive predatory infringement, killing off startups, the biggest competitive threat to Big Tech and many other industries.
I attended the hearing at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in Maalouf v. Microsoft on Monday February 6, 2023, and the CAFC issued its opinion in the case this past Thursday. This case has curious origins. Through his company Dareltech, Ramzi Khalil Maalouf, a Lebanese immigrant and U.S. citizen, sued Xiaomi, a Chinese multinational corporation, for patent infringement in New York. The case was dismissed without prejudice because Xiaomi was found not to have a physical presence in New York, notwithstanding their proven secret office. Later, Microsoft, naming Xiaomi as the real party in interest, filed an Inter Partes Review (IPR) with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). In other words, a U.S. Big Tech multinational acted on behalf of a China-controlled multinational to invalidate the patents of a small American inventor, thus clearing the way into the U.S. market for the China-controlled multinational.
In February 2020, ParkerVision filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Intel in Judge Alan Albright’s Waco, Texas, courthouse in the Western District of Texas. Only three years later, and through the pandemic, today, the case settled all pending matters. ParkerVision still has remaining patent infringement cases in process against TCL, LG, MediaTek and RealTek in Judge Albright’s court. A settled case is the best way to close a patent infringement dispute. It not only reduces costs for the parties, but it also reduces the court’s burden of a trial. When the parties agree to settle, everyone goes home happy.
US Inventor is publicly opposing the appointment of Representative Darrell Issa (R – CA) to Chair the IP Subcommittee due to Issa’s record of IP reforms that are harmful to independent inventors and startups. To accomplish these IP reforms, Issa squelches the voices of independent inventors and startups while amplifying the voices of Big Tech and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) controlled multinationals. Now, in a recent statement, Issa argues that his IP reforms have made the patent system more fair for everyone, even as the facts show he is completely wrong. Issa is unfit to be IP Subcommittee Chair.
The House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee—Subcommittee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet (IP Subcommittee) writes patent law and is responsible for other patent-related initiatives. A country’s patent laws directly affect its innovation economy. In a free-market economy, patent laws can boost or destroy incentives to invent and commercialize new things. As a result, patent law influences economic and job growth, social mobility, technological advances and national security. The 118th congress has begun. Currently, the Republican Steering Committee is selecting the Chairs for the various committees and filling the ranks with members. The next step is for the Chairs of the various committees to select their subcommittee chairs. In the case of the IP Subcommittee, Jim Jordan is the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, so he selects the IP Subcommittee Chair. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) is the most likely candidate to be selected.
Joe Matal, the former Acting Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), recently posed as a question to those sponsoring H.R. 5874, the Restoring America’s Leadership in Innovation Act (RALIA): “What is the ‘conservative’ position on patents and other intellectual property?” It is an interesting question. What is it about property that makes it property? That’s not a liberal or conservative, or a Democratic or Republican question. Property rights are something everyone learns about early in life when your older sibling grabs your teddy bear and takes it away from you. Property rights are innate in humans. Just about everyone would proffer a similar definition: that’s mine and you can’t take it away – at least not without a fight.
The Pride in Patent Ownership Act, S.2774, is currently being attached to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA is “must pass” legislation funding the military at a time when wars are brewing around the world, some with credible threats of nuclear war. Attaching the Pride in Patent Ownership Act to the NDAA means it will certainly become law.
The Pride in Patent Ownership Act requires those who acquire patents to publicly register their ownership assignments with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) within 120 days. Thus, it serves to identify potential patent infringement plaintiffs. If the patent holder misses the 120-day deadline, an extremely harsh penalty of losing treble damages for willful infringement, the sole remaining deterrent to willful infringement, is applied.