Apple, Google press U.S. Supreme Court to curb patent trolls

“Apple Inc. and Google Inc., saying they’re tired of being slapped with frivolous patent suits that cost millions of dollars in legal fees, are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to let them hit back,” Greg Stohr reports for Bloomberg. “The technology companies are leading a group of firms urging the court to make it easier to collect attorneys’ fees from patent-holders who lose infringement suits. In two cases to be argued this month, the justices for the first time will consider the rules that govern fee awards in patent litigation. For Apple and Google, change can’t come soon enough. Each has been sued more than 190 times in the past five years by ‘patent-assertion entities,’ companies that get most of their revenue from patent licensing and enforcement, according to the research firm PatentFreedom. For every case that reaches court, Apple says, it gets dozens of letters demanding royalties.”

“The cases, to be argued on Feb. 26, give the Supreme Court two different avenues for allowing more fee awards,” Stohr reports. “One involves Octane Fitness LLC, a company seeking as much as $1.8 million in fees after defeating a patent suit. Octane was sued by Icon Health & Fitness Inc., another exercise equipment maker, over a component in elliptical machines. Octane is challenging the test for awards established in 2005 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles patent cases. The Federal Circuit allows fees if a suit is ‘objectively baseless’ and was filed in bad faith.”

“Apple told the justices that the company faces 228 unresolved patent claims and employs two attorneys just to respond to letters that demand royalties. The iPad maker says it has been sued 92 times by patent-assertion entities in the last three years, settling 51 cases, with most of the rest pending,” Stohr reports. “‘Apple has rarely lost on the merits,’ the company said in court papers. ‘But victory figures as small consolation because in every one of these cases, Apple has been forced to bear its legal fees.'”

“The question for the Supreme Court is whether the Federal Circuit must defer to a trial judge’s conclusion that a suit meets the standard for awarding fees,” Stohr reports. “Companies are also pushing Congress to make it easier for penalties to be imposed. One proposal, by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, would force the losers of patent cases to pay the winners’ expenses in most cases.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
New York State joins U.S. Congress, tech companies like Apple in war against patent trolls – January 14, 2014
U.S. House panel passes bill targeting ‘patent trolls’ – November 21, 2013
Apple Inc. a top target for patent trolls – August 29, 2013
Patent trolls have the smartphone industry in a state of emergency – August 10, 2012
New U.S. House ‘anti-troll’ bill would force patent trolls to pay defendants’ legal bills – August 2, 2012


  1. The law is being stupid here. Treating a murder the same as jay walking, cause both break the law…. 🙁

    Just because you are small does not make a patent non-valid, but patent trolls are a business group looking to make money on a legal loophole. Find big businesses and sue them based on patents never used, just filed and accepted. Buy them cheap from some poor scientist and then sue big names in court for big money.

    Of course, that is why the big courts get the big money. Right????? 🙁

    1. I disagree. Apple does buy patents, as do Microsoft and Google, but they also create products. When these companies buy patents, it may be to add features to their products, or to protect themselves from lawsuits. Trolls only own patents; their purpose in buying them is to sue big companies for big money. They do not make anything aside from job security for lawyers.

      1. There’s a difference, too, in being the big company protecting the product they have produced and being the troll with nothing to lose. It is worthwhile for Apple to sue in order to protect its patents, even if it occasionally loses (or SameSong delays forever and keeps making money abusing Apple’s patents). But for the guy who has done nothing, and never intends to, to be able to sue Apple and hope they get lucky but lose nothing if they don’t, it is wrong. If all it cost them was paying Apple’s legal fees in the suit, it would end much of the legal logjam the system endures over such stupidity. And that would be completely reasonable.

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