A recent decision from the United States District Court of the District of Hawaii reveals an effective strategy for responding to non-practicing entity (NPE) suits and obtaining leverage early on in the litigation. This strategy takes into account the business model of some NPEs to name many (unconnected) industry players in one lawsuit and plead only bare allegations of patent infringement.
Tagged: Patent Trolls
A Quest to Slay the Trolls: Legislative Attempts to Send a Cease and Desist Message to Patent Trolls
Concerns about shake-down patent assertion have prompted response at federal and state levels, from all branches of government. Proposed legislative solutions have included bills that would penalize bad faith claims, impose fines on patent assertion entities (“PAEs”) that send letters with vague allegations of infringement, or make the awarding of attorney’s fees standard in PAE patent litigations. While no legislative proposal answers all the unique challenges patent trolls represent, these lawmaking efforts have highlighted the issue and are prompting other stakeholders to meaningfully assess the holes in the current patent system.
On Monday, a group of some 60 law school professors from across the country formally joined the debate on the perceived abuses by Patent Assertion Entities (“PAEs”), or so-called patent trolls. The Professors signed a letter to Congress that decries “abusive patent enforcement” by trolls. The result of these litigations, according to the Professors, is the diversion of billions of dollars from employee hiring and retention and product development to “wasteful litigation.”
Somewhere, someone must have taken the famous cartoon of Elmer Fudd, in full hunting regalia, and changed the caption to read, “Shhhhhhhhhhh, I’m hunting Twolls.” (After securing the appropriate IP permissions, of course.) This past fall, we posed the hypothetical question of whether it was open season for patent trolls, euphemistically referred to as non-practicing entities (“NPEs”) or patent assertion entities (“PAEs”), in the wake of the new 35 U.S.C. § 299.
Among other changes, the America Invents Act (“AIA”) includes the new 35 U.S.C. § 299. This statute purports to reduce the ability of a patent owner to join multiple, unrelated defendants in a single action, a tactic often used by litigious non-practicing entities (“NPEs”), who press for nuisance value settlements. In addition, the AIA commissioned the Government Accounting Office (“GAO”) to study the consequences of NPEs, to include their costs, benefits and economic impact.