In today’s digital age, cloud computing has lowered the barrier of entry into many marketplaces by providing network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources. Cloud services allow business to forego upfront capital costs on servers, network infrastructure, and software allowing companies to focus on establishing and differentiating its business instead of worrying about its IT resources. Additionally, it is typically a “pay as you go” service meaning that businesses can scale up or down as needed in real time. However, entrusting a third-party as the sole source of the company’s network, software, and data storage functionality puts the company at risk of losing these services should the provider enter bankruptcy.
Tagged: Intellectual Property Audits (IP audits)
The Federal Circuit recently addressed the issue of whether Patent Term Adjustment (“PTA”) can be reduced under 35 U.S.C. § 154(b)(1)(C) by conduct that does not actually cause delay in the conclusion of prosecution. Section 154(b)(1)(C) provides that PTA “shall be reduced by a period equal to the period of time during which the applicant failed to engage in reasonable efforts to conclude prosecution of the application.” The USPTO has interpreted the statute to mean that conduct that did delay or that could potentially delay the examination of a patent applications should be sanctioned. In Gilead Sciences Inc. v. Lee, Gilead Sciences, Inc. (“Gilead”) contested the USPTO’s interpretation and argued that the statue required actual delay in the conclusion of prosecution. The Federal Circuit held that Congress’s intent in enacting the statute was “to sanction not only applicant conduct or behavior that result in actual delay, but also those having the potential to result in delay irrespective of whether such delay actually occurred.”
On Friday, the Federal Circuit issued an opinion in Wi-LAN USA, Inc. v. Ericsson, Inc., which highlights the importance of using care when granting rights to or under patents. The interesting facts in this case resulted in two contradictory opinions from two district courts regarding the scope of an agreement pertaining to rights under certain patents. These opinions illustrate the potential dangers of unintended consequences that may arise from imprecise drafting in patent agreements.
We recently reported that during the August doldrums the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed for comment amendments to the Hart-Scott-Rodino rules that would require reporting of licensing agreements under which a patent holder grants an “exclusive” license, but retains the limited right to manufacture solely for the recipient of the patent rights, or a right to assist in developing and commercializing the product covered by the patent (“co-rights”) and the value of the license exceeds the HSR minimum (currently $68.2 million).
FTC Proposes Rules to Codify Reporting of Exclusive Patent Right Transfers in the Pharmaceutical Industry
Is the sale or assignment of a patent reportable? The Hart-Scott Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (“HSR”) and related rules require that all acquisitions of voting securities or assets exceeding a threshold amount be reported to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), as well as the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. The current threshold is $68.2 million.
As has been widely reported by the mainstream press and most legal publications, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has approved a new “.XXX” top-level domain expected to be utilized by the adult entertainment industry. Given the connotation of the .XXX domain, companies and individuals around the globe are considering how best to protect their trademarks from the potential harms of registry misuse, including cyber squatters targeting this new domain to register well known trademarks. Although the creation of the .XXX domain will be a boon to those in the adult entertainment industry and domain registrars, it raises serious threats of infringement, brand dilution or tarnishing for trademarks uninvolved in those industries. If they have not already, all trademark owners should be considering the potential impact of the .XXX domain to their marks and determining whether to take the necessary steps to “opt-out” of .XXX domain registration by the October 28, 2011 deadline for doing so.
$12.5 billion for 17,000 patents! $4.5 billion for 6,500 patents! These purchases by Google and a group spearheaded by Microsoft and Apple represent a shift in the value of respective patents. However, valuing patents is not a simple task, but requires proper attorney diligence to ensure the purchase of patents is done in an efficient manner as not all companies have the resources of Google and the Microsoft group.
Corporate Reorganization Absent Assignment or License of Patent Rights Results In Preclusion Of Patentee’s Lost Profits Damages
In a decision that highlights the import of assigning or licensing intellectual property assets during corporate reorganization, a district court recently ruled that a plaintiff patentee was not entitled to lost profit damages based on the patent at issue in an infringement action. In Duhn Oil Tool, Inc. v. Cooper Cameron Corporation (CAED January 24, 2011) Duhn Oil Tool, Inc. filed suit against Cooper Cameron Corporation alleging patent infringement. Following discovery, the defendant filed a motion for partial summary judgment arguing that the plaintiff patentee was not entitled to lost profits damages.
When the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided Bon Tool, it unwittingly triggered an avalanche of litigation against major corporations brought under 35 U.S.C. § 292, the false marking statute. The opinion resolved a split of authority regarding whether a manufacturer of a product could be subjected to a fine based on each article that had been falsely marked, or each decision to mark the article. Combined with the fact that the qui tam nature of the false marking statute obviated the need to establish traditional Article III standing, a new breed of patent trolls sprung into existence seemingly overnight, dedicated to the task of tracking down mis-marked products, and seeking to share half of a maximum $500 per falsely marked item bounty. The economic appeal in bringing such suits is obvious. A major manufacturer could potentially produce millions of falsely marked articles. Even if a court decided not to assess the full $500 penalty (which it has discretion to do), a successful plaintiff could still stand to reap a sizeable award based on the sheer number of falsely marked articles injected into the stream of commerce. Since that time, several cases have been decided that have helped to provide guidance to litigants on both sides of this rapidly evolving area of law.