A Virginia firm is accusing Durham LED maker Cree of infringing on four patents, and is asking for “a reasonable royalty” to be awarded in court. But this time it’s not a competitor filing suit in federal court, it’s Bluestone Innovations LLC, a patent licensing and enforcement company often categorized as a “patent troll.”
In the five years since it began its work — a result of the America Invents Act of 2011 — the Patent Trial and Appeal Board has saved companies more than $2 billion in legal fees alone, according to Joshua Landau, patent counsel at the Computer and Communications Industry Association, offering an expeditious and relatively cheap avenue to challenge patents of doubtful validity.
The benefits of stopping bad patents from snaking their way through the economy have been even greater.
Two can play the lawsuit game, and the National Association of Realtors just dealt itself in. On June 8, NAR filed a civil complaint against Data Distribution Technologies (DDT) requesting that its patent on a “remotely updated database system” be declared invalid and unenforceable by the U.S. District Court.
My experiences while on the “dark side” profoundly shaped my view on the role that Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs), or patent trolls, play in the tech industry. The struggle between PAEs and companies that produce and sell products is not as stark or binary as “light and dark,” or “good and evil,” but the fact remains that PAE litigation does more harm than good. The tech industry is fertile ground for PAE litigation, with its many patents, plentiful companies and an increasing global reliance on technology. PAEs have no incentive to stop unless we in tech work together to stand up against them.