is the founder in the IP law firm of SpencePC in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Spence is a trial attorney with focus on patent, trade secret, unfair competition (including conspiracy, tortious interference, and related antitrust claims), breach of contract, trademark, and copyright litigation. He has litigated claims in both state and federal courts throughout the United States and counseled on post-grant patent proceedings in front of the US Patent and Trademark Office. Mr. Spence has extensive experience with a wide range of patent monetization strategies, including complex, international patent infringement litigation involving multiple parties and jurisdictions, most notably including Japan. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame where he received separate B.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering and Biophysics (“Physics in Medicine”). Mr. Spence also holds a J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center. Prior to forming SpencePC, Mr. Spence spent twelve years practicing law with Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Chicago, IL and Tokyo, Japan. Mr. Spence may be reached by email or by phone at 312-404-8882.
The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) recently released report on patent assertion entities (PAEs) includes a number of key findings made by the agency on the business model of such companies. The FTC identified two different business models employed by PAEs which differ in terms of litigation and licensing activity. Most of the FTC’s recommendations are legislative in scope but the report does include some advice for the country’s judicial system. For example, the report also includes a number of recommendations to deter what the FTC calls “nuisance litigation.”
The information the FTC has been collecting regarding patent assertion entities is extensive. Along with standard corporate information, the FTC is making a survey of each patent in PAE portfolios going back to 2008 to investigate the date of patent acquisition, the patent’s maintenance fee status as well as the assertion history for all patents upon which the PAE has attempted to enforce its rights. Firms are also being asked to describe their business model, the methods used to organize their patent portfolios and the aggregate costs of patent acquisition and assertion. The FTC has sent information requests to 25 PAEs in order to build its evidence.
The patent landscape for self-driving vehicles is also quickly expanding. As of 2013, patent applications related to this technology hit 2,500 per year. That rate is expected to increase. A lot of attention has been paid to the entry of major tech firms, including Google, thanks in part to eyebrow-raising technologies like their patent for an adhesive material for a car’s hood that is designed to “catch” a pedestrian who is inadvertently struck by an autonomous vehicle. But tech companies should expect plenty of competition. Despite reports that Silicon Valley tech giants are entering the autonomous vehicle race and risk upsetting the traditional market, a study from Thomson Reuters Intellectual Property and Science indicates that long-time automakers have taken the lead in autonomous vehicle development in terms of patents and patent applications.
Of the virtual reality options currently on the market, the Oculus Rift is arguably built upon one of the most technologically robust VR platforms. Capturing the movements of a person wearing the Oculus Rift headset is a sensor which tracks infrared LED constellations projected onto a user. Each Oculus Rift unit comes with the IR LED sensor, a mounting stand, and a cable to connect the sensor to a personal computer for processing resources. Users can also use an Oculus Rift remote or a compatible remote controller, such as an Xbox game controller, to input commands and interact with the virtual world.
The proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more commonly referred to as drones, has cluttered airspaces all over the world in a precarious way. Security and privacy issues related to drones have prompted some organizations to ban the use of drones entirely… With so much interest in developing systems for drone disabling and capturing unauthorized drones, it’s not surprising to see patents being issued for related technologies over the past year by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. One such patent, U.S. Patent No. 9085362, titled Counter-Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System and Method, generally relates to a UAV for providing counter-UAV measures… Although American aerospace and defense giant Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) appears to maintain a leading position in this field, smaller inventors are also active in this field…
With an increase in the number of patents being issued for clean energy technologies, it’s not surprising to see predictions of increased patent litigation in the sector. Patent infringement cases in the clean energy sector have already involved many of the industry’s top companies, including Westinghouse Solar, Zep Solar, DuPont (NYSE:DD) and SunEdison. Although patent issuances have exploded in that field, the market isn’t nearly as crowded as smartphones and other industries where a much higher number of patents have issued, making those sectors more visible to NPEs. With the renewed calls for both private and public investment into clean energy R&D in the wake of the Paris climate change conference, it’s clear to see that intellectual property owners who can successfully navigate the patent market could make significant financial gains.
On November 2, 2015, San Francisco-based Fitbit Inc. filed a Section 337 complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC) against AliphCom (d/b/a Jawbone) and BodyMedia, Inc. (Investigation No. ITC-337-3096). In a parallel proceeding in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, Case No. 1:15-CV-00990, Fitbit alleged infringement of three patents assigned to Fitbit—namely, U.S. Patent Nos. 8,920,332 (titled Wearable Heart Rate Monitor); 8,868,377 (titled Portable Monitoring Devices and Methods of Operating Same); and 9,089,760 (titled System and Method for Activating a Device Based on a Record of Physical Activity). According to the district court complaint, Jawbone’s products associated with components of its UP series of trackers indirectly infringe the patents-at-issue. Fitbit hopes that it will be successful in preventing the import and sale in America of wearable activity tracking devices sold by Jawbone by requesting the ITC to issue a limited exclusion order and a cease and desist order.