NPE

Software patents: The talk of 2012

Open law year in review

Looking back over the law channel posts of 2012, I was not surprised to see that software patents were a major concern. The high volume of significant patent lawsuits of competitors and rising levels of NPE (aka patent trolls or patent assertion entities) suits has been the subject of both open source community and mainstream media interest.

There were new ideas on patent reform, and an increasing recognition by the public at large that software patents can hinder innovation. We also saw interesting developments in the areas of internet privacy and freedom and copyright law. I'll go out on a limb and make a prediction: » Read more

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What to do about the "patent troll" problem

Patent troll

A new report titled An Overview of the "Patent Trolls" Debate [PDF] is a balanced but ultimately devastating indictment of "patent trolls." It was prepared by the Congressional Research Service for members of Congress, who could actually do something about the "troll" problem. It's a useful primer for those new to the area. » Read more

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A cure for the common troll

A cure for the common troll

Our bridge into the 21st Century presently houses a nasty creature who demands a toll from the best and brightest in our community. The dreaded troll is a regular denizen of our current system of patent enforcement and he poses serious problems for technology companies. Despite the great expense of patent litigation, trolls are filing increasing numbers of patent suits aimed at technology companies, and particularly aimed at software and related areas of commerce. Their club of choice is the broad, complex, and vague patent claim. There are several means at our disposal, most of which are based on known mechanisms from other areas of the law, for dealing with these trolls, or more diplomatically, these "non-practicing entities." » Read more

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Crushed innovation: When patent lawyers switch to NPEs

Crushed innovation: When patent lawyers switch to NPEs

When well-known, richly compensated patent lawyers switch from representing world-class tech companies to servicing "non-practicing entities," something's up. Could the sordidness of a business based on bringing patent lawsuits be outweighed by large amounts of cash? At least for some, apparently yes. » Read more

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The huge societal costs of NPE software patent lawsuits

Ginormous losses from NPE software patent lawsuits

Innovative software companies start each work day knowing that, no matter how careful and how ethical they are, they face a meaningful risk of being sued for patent infringement. It's like a tooth ache – painful and distracting, even when not debilitating. A major source of this pain is non-practicing entities (NPEs), which are expert at acquiring and exploiting weak software patents. While this is not hot news to the open source community, the enormous financial harm caused by NPEs is just starting to be understood. » Read more

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New patent reform law could reduce lawsuits by non-practicing entities

New patent reform law could reduce lawsuits by non-practicing entity

The Hidden Gem in the Bill:  Joinder Reform

So it has finally happened: a patent reform bill has actually become law. Last Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted 89-9 to send H.R. 1249 to the White House, where it was signed into law today.  While I have pointed out in the past that this bill misses out on several aspects of reform that previous bills attempted, it does include some useful aspects.

First, though, let’s discuss what the new law will NOT include. » Read more

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