All Posts

Lemley Responds: Defending the Myth of the Sole Inventor

If you actually read my article you will find that I simply don’t say the things they claim I say. The basic refrain of the Howells-Katznelson paper is that (1) I think Edison and the Wright brothers didn’t make inventive contributions, and (2) I diminish their contributions in service of my “radical” anti-patent agenda. With all due respect, I don’t see how anyone who read the whole paper could think I said any such thing. There is no question that Edison and the Wrights made useful contributions to the world. The point of my article is that they (and the many other iconic inventors I discuss) did not act alone. They made important but incremental contributions on the shoulders of many other inventors advancing the technology, and they often did so at about the same time as other, lesser-known inventors.

Turning Your Idea into an Invention

One thing that many individuals and professional inventors employed by corporations (i.e., “kept inventors”) have in common is that they frequently do not perceive what they have come up with as worth patenting. So many have the idea that a patent is something that gets awarded to breakthrough innovations, when in fact it is far more common to have a patent awarded to an improvement on an existing product. If you can improve upon something , there is already a market in existence for the underlying product and consumers will perceive your improvement as worth paying for then you very well may have a winning invention. Certainly, you are much farther along the path to success with that trifecta.

Android Woes: IV Sues Motorola Mobility for Patent Infringement

So here we are, many years later and IV’s philosophy seems to have changed. No longer is litigation a poor way to monetize patents, but rather IV sees itself as having a responsibility to litigate. The self-righteousness of IV’s claims is why they engender such distrust, even bordering on hatred. For so long they came in peace and now that they have the leverage they seem to be playing a different tune, and using patent litigation with greater frequency. They accumulated patents over time, sometimes getting as much as $50 million from companies like Google, eBay, Sony, Intel, Microsoft, Apple, Nokia and others, ostensibly for the purpose of obtaining a defensive patent position. Oh how the tables have turned.

Revolutionizing Prior Art Research: How Crowdsourcing Could Save the Angry Birds

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).

Chief Judge Rader Says KSR Didn’t Change Anything, I Disagree

Upon hearing Rader make such a bold statement the first thought that ran through my mind was — Really? Did he just say that? I have heard from others for some time that Rader has been heard to say these or similar things relating to obviousness, but I just discounted them as one would discount the output of a game of telephone. After something gets stated, shared and restated there is typically little of the same message remaining. That had to be why Rader was reported to have said such curious things about obviousness and the impact of KSR. But then I was sitting right there listening to Chief Judge Rader say something that is provably incorrect. I’ll bite. I’ll take that challenge.

A Winning Patent Infringement Defense: Reexamination Creates Intervening Rights, Erases $29.4 Million Verdict

Companies accused of patent infringement are increasingly looking at patent reexamination at the Patent Office as an attractive avenue for challenging the patent’s validity. Reexamination offers a number of well-known advantages as a forum for such validity challenges over District Court, among them the absence of a presumption of validity and a lower burden of proof. Less well-known, however, is the potential for reexamination to eliminate an accused infringer’s liability for past damages – even if the PTO confirms the validity of a patent in reexamination, the accused infringer might be entitled to “intervening rights,” effectively eliminating past damages, if the patent owner amends its claims to distinguish its invention over the prior art. This possibility of “intervening rights” received a big boost last week with the CAFC’s decision in Marine Polymer Techs. v. HemCon, finding that such rights may be created even without an amendment of the claims if the patent owner presents arguments in reexamination that “effectively amend” the claims.

Some More Heretical Thoughts on Strategies for Coping with First to File Under the America Invents Act*

So what does this AIA “mumbo jumbo” mean in plain English? Well, to me and especially to others who have previously opined on this provision of the AIA, it means you not only don’t blow “novelty” in the U.S. by “publishing” the subject matter of your claimed invention (although you’ll blow “absolute novelty” elsewhere, including Europe, unless you do what I suggest below), but you can essentially “foul the nest” of others that follow after your “published” date. Even better, when you “publish” the subject matter of your claimed invention, you also put a non-patent application “date stake” in the ground as to what you have “published” that is resistant to subsequent intervening “prior art” of third parties when you do file your U.S. application (within a year of that “published” date).

Prior Art Under America Invents: The USPTO Explains First to File

If (B) gives a blanket exclusion to subject matter, which cannot be used as prior art after a disclosure by an inventor, that would lead to nearly ridiculous results. Imagine for example that an inventor discloses a specific embodiment of a coffee cup and then subsequently another who did not derive independently comes up with and discloses a coffee cup with a lid. If (B) does more than relate to a personal grace-period the subsequent disclosure could not be used against the first to publish inventor as prior art because it relates to the same “subject matter.” That would mean that the inventor could incorporate the cup and the lid into his/her patent application and obtain claims. You might be tempted to say that is impossible, but if the cup with the lid is not prior art then under what rationale could an examiner issue a good rejection? This would lead to results that turn the patent system upside down, and was clear evidence to me that those arguing that 102(b)(1)(B) excluded out subsequent independently disclosed inventions was fanciful at best.

Chief Judge Rader: “We Need to Tolerate A Little Injustice”

During his contemporaneous, unscripted speech, Chief Judge Randall Rader made several remarks about the access to justice that raised some eyebrows. On Friday we were told that we need to tolerate the injustice of certain rules that might lead to an unfair result, but then on Saturday morning during the Judges’ panel we were told that rules of thumb couldn’t and shouldn’t apply to the law of damages. Rader on one hand was saying that certainty and relatively bright line rules are necessary to control the process of litigation, but then on the other hand saying that a flexible, case-by-case approach needs to be what we pursue. In short, it seems to me that Judge Rader wants to have his cake and eat it too! I dissented in person, and I dissent here and now.

UNH Law Honors Newman, Gajarsa Named Distinguished Jurist

There is much to write about the event, but I will start my week long coverage with an overview of the event. As the week progresses I will delve into some interesting substantive discussions that took place over this Intellectual Property weekend in the Granite State, including: (1) Chief Judge Rader tell me during the Judges’ panel: “You aren’t making any sense…”; (2) Chief Judge Rader daring anyone to come up with proof that the Supreme Court’s decision in KSR did anything to change previous Federal Circuit case law on obviousness (I’ll take that challenge!); and (3) Jon Dudas, the former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, succinctly (and correctly) explaining that the funding of the United States Patent and Trademark Office is similar in ways to a Ponzi scheme.

AIPF 2011 Annual Meeting: A Recap of the Event

Last week the Association for Intellectual Property Firms (AIPF) held its 2011 Annual Meeting at the W Chicago City Center Hotel. The theme for this years event was “Enhancing IP Rights in a Time of Erosion.” The program covered topics and featured and a variety of professionals from across the IP spectrum and beyond, including Philip S Johnson, Chief IP Counsel for Johnson & Johnson, Kirk Goodwin, Senior Counsel for Whirlpool, Bruce Hendricks, Associate GC for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and of course, yours truly, The Social Media Diva of IPWatchdog.com. You could say the program technically started Sunday evening when the Board of Directors and Speakers got together at Mike Ditka’s in Chicago. The food and service were amazing, the company was friendly and conversations were stimulating. The only thing that could have made the night better was being able to stay and watch some football after the meeting. It was, after all, a sports bar. But I digress.

UNH School of Law Opens Franklin Pierce Center for IP

Indeed, the new Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property at the University of New Hampshire School of Law will formally open with a bang! Chief Judge Randall Rader of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit will deliver remarks at a dinner hosted by UNH Law on Friday, September 30, 2011, and will participate in a Judge’s panel on Saturday, October 1, 2011. Rounding out the Judges’ panel will be Judge Pauline Newman and Judge Arthur Gajarsa, both also of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Three Federal Circuit Judges at the opening event for the new IP Center is a great way to start.

CAFC: Intervening Rights for Claims Unamended During Reexam*

I like writing about esoteric patent law topics and the question of “intervening rights” in reexaminations/reissues is one of the more esoteric. See my 1998 JPTOS article entitledIntervening Rights: A Potential Hidden Trap for Reexamined Patent. The case of Marine Polymer Technologies, Inc. v. HemCon, Inc. is one of those rare instances in this esoteric area of patent law where the Federal Circuit announced a new “wrinkle” on when “intervening rights” apply in reexamination. Unfortunately, the rule announced by the majority in Marine Polymer Technologies (“intervening rights” apply to unamended claims based on statements made during reexamination) is squarely in conflict with the express language of 35 U.S.C. § 307(b), as Judge Lourie’s dissent vigorously (and more importantly, correctly) points out.

America Invents: A Simple Guide to Patent Reform, Part 1

There will be plenty of time to drill down on the particulars of the America Invents Act. The Act is dense, language choices from section to section in some places change and in other places remains the same, making you suspect that different terms must mean different things but the same term in different places has to mean the same thing, right? That being said, I thought I might take this opportunity to provide a high level overview of the America Invents Act.  What follows is discussion of 5 provisions contained in the Act.  Look for an overview breakdown of additional provisions (prior user rights, supplemental examination, post-grant review, etc.) coming soon.

Myriad: Isolated DNA claims from “ball bats in trees,” and “kidneys” to “magic microscopes.”

The basic argument in Myriad is whether DNA that is isolated from the chromosomes is statutory subject matter, or whether it is a product of nature. The stakes are high in the Myriad case, since the isolated DNA claimed by Myriad encodes mutated BRCA1 and BRCA2 proteins that can be used to detect breast cancer. Myriad has the only test offered in the United States because of its aggressive enforcement of its several patents. The numerous plaintiffs in the case speak to the core of the patent versus non-patent debate: whether patents actually “promote the progress of science and useful arts” as required in the U.S. Constitution. Myriad and other companies heavily reliant on biotechnology patents, would support the argument that strong patent enforcement allows companies which have invested millions or billions in assay or drug development for clinical use to recoup their investment and provide a return for investors. The plaintiffs would argue that such patents not only hinder the useful arts, but also endanger lives and/or drives up the cost of providing potentially life-saving testing and treatment.