Apple, Google watch closely as US Supreme Court weighs curbing patent trolls

“The U.S. Supreme Court considered making it easier for companies that successfully fight off patent infringement suits to collect legal fees from the losers in a case with ramifications for Apple Inc. and Google Inc.,” Susan Decker and Greg Stohr report for Bloomberg. “Hearing arguments today in Washington, the justices debated how best to deter meritless suits as they weighed for the first time the rules that govern fee awards in patent litigation. Apple and Google are among the companies urging the court to lower the bar for fee awards.”

“The justices voiced concern about patent misuse by companies of all sizes. Justice Antonin Scalia said large businesses could use their patents in a “shakedown” to drive smaller competitors out of the market,” Decker and Stohr report. “Justice Stephen Breyer said owners of weak patents were using the high cost of litigation to extract cheap and easy settlements.”

“Apple and Google each have been sued more than 125 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,” Decker and Stohr report. “The case before the justices involves Octane Fitness LLC, which is 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.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Apple, Google press U.S. Supreme Court to curb patent trolls – February 5, 2014
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 Comment

  1. I think the best approach would be that the patent holder must be using his patent through an active, current license. . . If not, the bar has to be raised a lot to prevail.

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