Tag Archives: patent quality
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Patent Quality Commissioner will provide performance update at Corporate IP Counsel Forum

Valencia Martin Wallace, Deputy Commissioner for Patent Quality at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, will deliver the keynote address at the USPTO’s Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative at the 8Valencia_Wallace-Martinth annual Corporate IP Counsel Forum in New York, March 23-24.

Chief IP and In-House Counsel from a broad cross-section of industries and companies will be speaking at the two-day event. Topics include “Navigate the PTAB Process” and “Evaluate Patent Damages Reform Measures to Improve Risk Management.”

Readers of IP CloseUp who are in-house attorneys are invited to attend IP Counsel Forum at an 80% discount. By using the promo code BBIPCU when reserving they can attend for $195.

“Exploring the IP Issues of Open Source Software” will be the topic of a round-table discussion led by Red Hat’s Robert H. Tiller at the end of the first day.

Industries and companies represented include:

IT/Electronics:

  • Vringo
  • Entegris
  • Broadcom, Ltd.
  • IBM Research
  • NCR Corporation
  • Red Hat

Insurance/Finance:

  • MasterCard
  • The Hartford Financial Services Group
  • Aetna

Pharmaceutical:

  • HR Pharmaceuticals
  • MedImmune
  • Merck
  • Alexion Pharmaceuticals

Consumer Products:

  • Colgate-Palmolive
  • Avon Products
  • PepsiCo
  • Conair Corporation
  • FormLabs
  • Monsanto
  • Robert Bosch
  • Luxottica Group
Higher Education:

  • Columbia University
  • UVA Licensing and Ventures Group

Entertainment/Hospitality:

  • CBS Law Department
  • Fuse Media
  • Marvel Entertainment
  • Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Chemicals/Biotech:

  • Heraeus Incorporated
  • Advaxis
  • Chemtura
  • Rambus
  • Thermo Fisher Scientific

Corporate IP Counsel Forum is produced by the World Congress and sponsored by Intel among others. The event is being held at the Marriott Eastside at 525 Lexington Avenue at 48th Street. For the agenda and speakers go here. For pricing and registration information here or call +1 800-767-9499.

Image source: uspto.gov; worldcongress.com

 

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Harvard study: financial patents lag in quality, especially NPEs’

A recently published Harvard Business School working paper found that financial services patents lack quality because they lag their peers in academic citations.

“Financial Patent Quality: Finance Patents After State Street”  findings indicate that financial services patents are questionable with regard to their references to academic prior art. The study’s findings also show that patents awarded to individuals and associated with non-practicing entities (NPEs) cite less academic prior art, and that financial services patents with fewer of these citations are more likely to be asserted in litigation.

The research also shows that financial services patents cite less non-patent pristacked_1200px_130327or art, and especially less academic prior art.

Patents assigned to individuals and NPEs were particularly problematic with respect to academic citations.
Having fewer academic prior art citations, the HBS study indicates, directly correlates to the likelihood of a financial services patent being the subject of litigation.

Not all patent professionals agree that the number or type of citations play a significant role in determining patent quality or the likelihood that a patent will be enforced.

The study team was led by Josh Lerner, a professor at Harvard Business School and co-author of Innovation and Its Discontents: How Our Broken Patent System is Endangering Innovation and Progress, and What to do About It.

“Financial Patent Quality” concludes that:

  • Financial services patents cite fewer non-patent prior art publications than the comparison groups. This is especially the case with respect to academic prior art publications.
  • Patents awarded to corporations generally cite more prior art, particularly academic research than do those awarded to individuals or associated with NPEs.
  • Citations of academic prior art are strongly related to whether a finance patent is litigated. In particular, financial services patents with more academic citations, one indicator of higher quality, were subject to less litigation.

The HBS working paper was sponsored by Askeladden L.L.C.  as part of its Patent Quality Initiative, an 294628LOGOeducation, information and advocacy effort with the goal of improving the understanding, use and reliability of patents in financial services and elsewhere. Askeladden is a subsidiary or The Clearing House, the oldest banking association in the United States.

According to Bloomberg BNA the study selected finance patents from specific subclasses of the PTO’s classification code 705, titled, “Data Processing: Financial, Business Practice, Management, or Cost/Price Determination.” Most of the claims of the finance patents involve data processing on generic computing equipment and are, thus, likely to be claimed as software algorithms.

To see the HBS working paper, “Financial Patent Quality,” go here.

Image source: hbs.edu 

The future of IP will be examined at the 10th IP Summit in Berlin

Uncertainty is putting pressure on patents, trademarks and copyrights. All are facing more scrutiny and a challenging future.  

Scrutinizing these fundamental issues on December 3rd and 4th in Berlin will be more than 600 IP holders, executives and investors attending the Intellectual Property Summit. Organized by Premier Cercle, it will be the tenth edition of the popular conference, held previously in Paris and Brussels.

This year’s Summit will attempt to deconstruct global IP trends and explore the future of IP rights – patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets – as business assets. There will be 100 speakers from Europe, North America and Asia.

Plenary topics include:

  • What is the future of IP in the 21st century?
  • Is your nation ready for open innovation?
  • More IP rights or better enforcement?
  • The future of injunctive relief in Europe?

On Friday, December 4 at 2:20 (14.20), your intrepid IP CloseUp editor, BB, will moderate a panel on Patent Quality – Always Challenging; Never Simple. Panelists will include:

>Valencia Martin Wallace  Deputy Commissioner for Patent Quality  USPTO / US

>Daniel G. Papst    Managing Director  PAPST LICENSING Gmbh & Co. KG / DEU

> Christian Vejgaard   European Patent Attorney  ERICSSON / SWD 

Chair : Bruce Berman Principal  BRODY BERMAN ASSOCIATES / US  

11A Patent Quality – Always Challenging; Never Simple
Defining patent quality
– What is a good patent?
– Distinguishing validity from invention quality and value
– Establishing more reliable patents
– The impact of poor quality

The patent quality session will be followed by a session on patent transactions on which IBM, Samsung, Chipworks and Unified Patents and are scheduled to participate.

This year’s IP summit partners include IP CloseUp and Brody Berman Associates. 

For the full agenda go here.

To register go here.

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Image source: premier cercle; i-mop.biz

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Patent quality puzzle is dissected in new WIP0 magazine article

A good patent is becoming increasingly harder to find.

In the current issue of WIPO Magazine my article, “The puzzle that is patent quality,” looks at how the importance, market value and reliability of a patent can vary with perspective, as well as its right to exist.

Patent quality may start with validity but it does not end there.

“[With patents] the discussion is typically about validity, not the quality of an invention or its market value,” I write. “When someone speaks of a ‘good’ patent they could be referring to one or more characteristics: the patent’s likelihood of being upheld if enforced (litigated), the importance of coverthe invention it excludes others from practicing; or its relative value (in terms of protecting profit margins or generating direct licensing revenue) to a particular holder at a given time.”

Defining a patent that is worthy of scrutiny, and provides a degree of certainty, is no easy feat.

More work is needed on the legal and market implications of patent quality, as is a better system for determining patent quality and value earlier and more efficiently for a broader range of technologies. The uncertainty associated with patents costs companies billions and dissuades innovation and investment.

The August issue of WIPO Magazine is available here. My piece begins on p. 16.

For the slightly shorter web version go here.

Image source: iplawleaders.com; wipo.int.

Patent quality — Is a “shared responsibility”, says IBM; it does not represent invention quality or IP value

There is a great deal of agreement that patent quality is lacking, but surprisingly little about how to define and achieve it.

Patent quality is typically associated with validity. Good patents are valid upon scrutiny, bad ones invalid. However, the term also refers to the relative importance of an invention and the value of the “negative” right – the right to exclude others from practicing it.

I attended the recent Patent Quality Summit hosted by the USPTO in Alexandria, VA on March 25-26.  Among the challenging remarks were those of Manny Schecter, Chief Patent Counsel at IBM, and the Summit’s first speaker.

He reminded the audience of more than 200 that patent value is a “shared responsibility” between the applicant and the examiner.

Schecter also said that “patent quality is not invention quality of patent value.” Wise words from head of IP of the 20-year leader in obtaining U.S. patents.

Hon. Paul Michel, former Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), was candid about how he believes patent quality can be improved. He wants greater onus placed on the examination and examiner. He says that the application process is the first line of offense for eliminating bad patents and facilitating more reliable ones. Better-educated and more empowered examiners who understand likely legal arguments should issued patents be disputed will help. Patents should not be issued in a vacuum.

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Search time and examiner resources are often cited as the key obstacles to issuing good patents. Those USPTO realities are unlikely to change much. What could change are the introduction of stricter parameters for patents to issue, and not wait for the courts or the PTAB to weigh in on issues like validity and enablement (Rule 112), when they could have been addressed much earlier in the application process. This would save multiple parties time and money. Currently, patents are almost always insufficiently reliable both to those who practice inventions and those who may wish enforce them. This may not be inevitable.

Issued patents need to move closer to a slam dunk than a moving target. Examinations and examiners will play a key role in that difficult process. If I hear what Judge Michel is saying, let’s give them a chance.

Information about the Summit, including it’s three pillars and six quality proposals can be found here. Public comments are requested by the USPTO until May 6. 

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An article by Christi Guerrini, an IP Fellow, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law in the Fordham Law Review, “Defining Patent Quality,” is a nobel attempt to begin to deconstruct the meaning of superior patents, and to go beyond a simple black/white definition defined by the legal parameters of validity.

From the author’s abstract:

“Depending on whom you ask, the state of U.S. patent quality is either dismal or decent, in decline or on fordhamlrev_headerthe upswing, in need of intervention or best left alone. Absent from the ongoing debate about the quality of U.S. patents, however, is much thoughtful discussion about what constitutes a patent’s “quality” in the first place. What features of a patent make it “good” in quality, what features make it “bad” in quality, and whose opinion matters?

“Surprisingly, scholars and policymakers have shown little interest in these questions. Yet their answers are critical to the direction of the patent agenda because they dictate how to measure patent quality and, consequently, how to evaluate the extent of the so-called patent quality ‘crisis’ as well as the effectiveness of quality reforms.

“The broad aim of this Article is to draw attention to the definition of patent quality as an important subject of scholarly inquiry. Its more specific aim is to call for a return to first principles and begin the process of operationalizing the meaning of patent quality. It does so by analyzing the concept using a methodology applied in the business literature of quality management.”

Defining Patent Quality” can be found here.

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In “Toward a working definition of patent quality,” which appears in the May IAM, out next week, I consider the challenges to better reliability.

“Patent quality is important because, among other things, a lack of it can impede businesses and require some to engage in unnecessary licensing or lawsuits.

“Bad patents are unreliable and undermine the integrity of the patent system, including the institutions Quality WEB HeaderNEWand professionals that sustain it. However, given the multitude of ways that standards are applied in specific cases, coming up with a universal definition of ‘patent quality’ is no easy feat. The best patents are often in the eye of the beholder.”

For the column I asked four people — an economist and valuation expert, a patent attorney, a former chief patent counsel and a successful NPE — to provide me with a two-sentence definition of “patent quality.” Their responses – thoughtful and startlingly precise – are a good indication that more work still needs to be done on this deceptively important area.

IAM subscribers can find my Intangible Investor column here.

Image source: ipfrontline.com; uspto.gov; fordham.edu

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Patent ‘Quality Summit’ will be open to the public, March 25-26

The goal of the USPTO gathering is to promote discussion of ways to improve patent quality.

The first Patent Quality Summit will take place at United States Patent and Trademark Office headquarters in Alexandria, VA on March 25-26.

The two-day event’s opening session, “Perspectives on the Importance of Quality,” will feature corporate counsel, private practitioners, academics, economists, and jurists. Sessions will be open to the public, and those wishing to attend the Quality Summit but cannot be in Alexandria, they will be able to listen to and watch the presentations via a live stream. Participation in the Brainstorming sessions will be via WebEx during which virtual attendees will be able to participate interactively.

According to a press release the gathering is intended to “encourage robust discussions among USPTO leadership; patent prosecutors, litigators, applicants and licensees; and other members of the public interested in USPTO’s efforts to further improve patent quality through its Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative.

The conference draft agenda, three pillars to improve quality and six proposals can be found here, as well as information about virtual attendance. 

A focus of the Summit will be on improving patent operations and procedures to provide Quality SUMMIT Logo-02the best work product, to enhance the customer experience, and to improve existing quality metrics. USPTO has already set in motion several quality initiatives, including robust technical and legal training for patent examiners, as well as a Glossary Pilot, Quick Patent IDS Program, First Action Interview Pilot, and After Final Consideration Pilot.

Public Comments Solicited

Separate from the Quality Summit, the USPTO is seeking public comment on its Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative. Comments in this round will be accepted through May 6, 2015. For further information about the summit – including a draft agenda – and instructions for submitting comments, visit the Federal Register Notice.

“High quality patents permit certainty and clarity of rights, which in turn fuels innovation and reduces needless litigation,” said Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO, Michelle K. Lee.

Image source: uspto.gov

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More Patent Holders, Filers Need to be Mindful of Bad Behaviors

Companies that denigrate independent patent holders who enforce their rights should take care not put all of the blame for the patent system’s ills on NPEs — There is plenty of bad patent behavior to go around. 

In the patent system it’s getting harder to tell the bad actors apart. And you know what they say about bad karma: What goes around comes around.

In the current Intangible Investor, in the March IAM, What’s in Their Wallet?,” I speculate about the dangers of complaining too loudly about how and by whom patents are being used. It can come back to haunt some large holders, many of whom hold large numbers of dubious patents and could be considered serial infringers.

REGULATE-tmagArticle“High patent counts are frequently a tactic rather than a solution and are an unreliable measure of success,” I write. “They are no more an indication of efficiency or innovation than a frivolous suit is of infringement. The quality of a patent holder’s portfolio matters, regardless of whether there is an intention to enforce it.

“Securing questionable patents is not a crime (although perhaps it should be), while enforcing them borders on one. This double standard will not exist forever. Decrying frivolous litigation loses meaning when the most vocal detractors of the current system are responsible for some of its worst patents.”

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In “The Mousetrap,” Hamlet’s play-within-the-play designed to catch the King, Hamlet’s mother, Queen Gertrude, observes, “The lady doth protest too much.”

According to Wikipedia the quotation has been used “as a figure of speech to indicate that a person’s overly frequent or vehement attempts to convince others of something have ironically helped to convince others that the opposite is true, by making the person look insincere and defensive.”

Smart holders of some large patent portfolios would be wise to heed the advice. Subscribers to IAM can find “What’s in Their Wallet?” here.

Image source: depts.ttu.edu; dealbook.nytimes.com

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Some Licensing Companies will Likely Benefit from Higher Patent Hurdles

As businesses adjust to new judicial and legislative requirements public patent licensing companies will have to work harder and think smarter to compete against the stock market and each other.

Some are better-positioned to succeed than other.

Investors will soon learn which patent licensing companies are best-prepared to respond to the new patent quality and anti-monetization requirements handed down by the lawmakers and the courts.

Public IP companies (PIPCOs) not only need to surmount new legal obstacles to monetize their assets, but at some point in the near future will no longer have the benefit of a bull market to buoy their shares. Such obstacles will actually suit some companies as they rise to the new challenges, and competition increase. It’s hard to keep a good patent down, especially a heavily infringed one; nor is it easy to deter a determined patent holder.

PIPCOs have benefited from the momentum of a 65-month bull market, by most accounts, now in its final stages. Balance sheet basics like cash flow, market value and the ability to grow in adverse market conditions will be increasingly important as investors seek shelter. This provides opportunities for companies like Tessera, InterDigital and Rambus, all market valued at $1B or more. This will put pressure on thinly traded nano-caps, whose low value will present challenges in weak market for speculative stocks. Exceptions will be those tiny companies whose stock price outpaces their revenue stream.  

Market Cap

In “Higher patent quality hurdles may help some Licensing companies to prevail” in the January IAM Magazine I look at the PIPCOs that have out-performed the S&P 500, thus far, and those positioned to continue to. I also consider  RPX’s (NASDAQ: RPXCIP business model which has suffered, possibly from a perceived lack of need for defensive aggregation under new Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) reviews.

“A kind of normalisation appears to be taking place in the NPE space,” the Intangible Investor piece states. “While IP rights and Alice have made it more difficult for most companies (and law firms) to collect big damages awards, they have not affected all PIPCOs the same way. Those with quality and capital, and room to grow are in a good position to prevail. Stock prices are depressed as over-reacting investors adjust to lower patent values, but some smart investors will see this as a buying opportunity.”  

Stock Performance

The businesses in the IP CloseUp® 30 that exceed $1 billion in market cap all did well through the first three quarters, some even outperforming the S&P 500, which was up 5% at that point. Most of the rest performed poorly, with the notable exception of Marathon Patent Group (NASDAQ: MARA), whose share price was up 120% at the end of the 3Q. (It’s up 147.7%% over the past year as I write this.)  Of the seven most highly valued IP licensing plays RPX performed the worst. (See current 12-month performance comparison below.)

S&P Comparison

“IP licensing companies are a very small part of a larger public equities market,” says Mark Argento, senior equity capital markets at Lake Street Capital, who has been following PIPCOs for almost a decade. “Only a half, or so, are institutional grade stocks because of their size and volume. Investor sentiment is improving. We need to remember there is a difference between long-term investors and short-term traders.” (See 3Q market cap and 12-month return charts on this page.)

The January IAM will be published in late November.

Image source: Lake Street Capital Partners; Freescale Semiconductor; tnoonz.com; yahoofinance.com.

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Post-Grant Reviews are Shaping NPE Patent Quality & Portfolio Size

More and better patents have greater meaning for licensors now that a petitioner can seek an internal review (IPR) canceling a patent because of a single claim. Expect those with capital and experience to prevail.

IPNav announced in May that the firm’s President, Deirdre Leane, is set to succeed CEO Erich Spangenberg by the end of the year.

Leane spoke with IPBC Global’s Richard Lloyd recently in Amsterdam about the future of patent licensing and the impact that Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs) are having on patent licensing. Leane also chatted about the a more expanded role for women in IP and her increased responsibilities at IPNav.

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She says the IPR pendulum has already starting to swing back in favor of patent holders. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decisions have gone from “a 90% plus kill rate to 82%,” Leane notes.

Leane believes that trend is likely to continue to move towards 70%, as patent holders select better patents to assert.

For those of you who wish to go directly to Leane’s remarks about IPRs, they start a bit after 2:00 in the 13 minute interview. The entire interview can be found here.

Image source: ipbcglobal.com

momentum-guys

Pro-Patent Momentum on the Rise?

Five recent articles challenge anti-IP myths driven by tech cos. Does the business media have the courage to follow?

For decades patent enforcement has been depicted as the province of villains and cheats. Drawing this portrait are either those who don’t understand the patent system, or who stand to lose because the system is doing its job.

Their effort to re-frame the story is more about an attempt to mitigate exposure than to fix the patent system. Myths about patent “trolls” destroying the economy and impeding innovation have been spread and patent enforcement demonized. All the while, poor patent quality and IP theft by bad actors — the real story — have grown.

Why a broad range of patent holders and their advisers have taken it on the chin for so long is a mystery.

It may have to do with licensing businesses who believe they hold quality patents and act honorably to protect their rights and those of their partners. They do not feel compelled to speak up because they are not the ones promoting the so-called frivolous suits.

Well, the ease of dumping on the patent holders who enforce their rights or others’ may be starting to wane. In recent weeks no fewer than five articles were published addressing the potential consequences of anti-enforcement legislation stoked by reluctant licensees and defendants.

Collectively, these articles suggest that more care must be exercised about who calls whom a “bad actor,” or of deploying “junk “patents.

Don’t Ignore the Evaders

In a USA Today pieces, “Don’t Weaken Intellectual Property Rights,” former Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said, “There are ways to address litigation abuse without putting the strength of our intellectual property rights in peril.”

Supreme_Court_Patenting_Genes_00c92In IP Today, Berkeley Professor David Teece, an eminent authority on patent value, cautioned about the rhetoric in Stop the Grandstanding on Patent Trolls.”

“Opponents of trolls seem to assume that patents only have value if they are held by companies that make products that use the invention,” Professor Teece stated. “But the real problem is frivolous litigation [and poor patent quality], regardless of a company’s business model.”

In a really first-rate piece by InterDigital CEO, William Merritt, “Address the Patent Trolls but Don’Ignore the Patent Evaders,” he points out that invention theft is a more heinous crime than the number of questionable suits that are filed annually.

Also recently, the ever reliable Gene Quinn at IP Watchdog published, “Patent Haters Take Notice! University Innovation Fuels Robust Economic Activity. In it, Quinn enumerates the tangible financial benefits of university technology licensing, including the reported $2.6 billion in licensing income generated from university patents in 2012. 

Quinn, a patent attorney, is familiar with the patent stonewall facilitated by some Silicon Valley companies whose franchises may be threatened by disruptive ideas. They would prefer audiences believe only they (successful tech businesses) are in the position to define what is innovative. (Detroit. This sound familiar?)

“At present patents and innovators are under attack by some Silicon Valley tech giants, the White House and members of Congress who are more interested in grandstanding than seeking meaningful legislative proposals that are likely to address litigation abuse,” he writes.

“Indeed, some Silicon Valley tech giants are not particularly fond of innovating and only begrudgingly use the patent system. Of course, these same companies will erroneously claim they are innovators, but by definition innovation means doing something new, not copying what others have done and ignoring their patent rights. These folks who think innovation is making a product rather than introducing something NEW, see patents as a necessary evil.

“This is extraordinarily short-sighted, but they have deep pockets for lobbying and getting their point of view in front of decision-makers.”

Separating Fact from Fiction

Finally, Steve Moore, an IP attorney with Kelley Drye in Stamford wrote in the fifth of a five-part series debunking the myth of patent trolls, A Fractured Fairy Tale: Separating Fact & Fiction on Patent Trolls, that vested interests are promoting and inaccurate picture of patent enforcement that could potentially undermine U.S. leadership in innovation.

“Our study suggests there is a critical need for a very through, unbiased, look at the so-called ‘troll problem’ before new legislative and administrative fixes are enacted.  In particular, a careful analysis of any ‘fix’ must be made to determine the effect of any proposed change on the majority of companies in this country, that is the small company.”

To read more about the debunking of patent troll myths see Moore’s Probing 10 Patent Troll Myths.

A Glut of Legislation

Five articles do not make a movement. Still, if you looked around a year ago there was practically no one writing about the need to reign in so-called patent reform, or expose the finger-pointers for doing little more than protecting their own interests. With seven patent bills in Congress in various stages of evolution, most associated with heavy lobbying by the anti-enforcement proponents, the atmosphere is beginning to resemble something of a witch hunt for which the broomstick has yet to materialize.

The focus of the patent discussion needs to be on the real issues: patent quality and bad actors.

Image source: postplanner.com; washingtonpost.com

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Going Ape for Apps: Samsung is Gaga for U.S. Patents

No company has more Active U.S. patents than Samsung or files more applications.

In fact, outside of IBM, Samsung leads all filers in U.S. patent applications by better than two to one.

According to “The US Patent 100” published by Patent Vest and MDB Capital in IAM, Samsung is the biggest current U.S. patent holder with 45,012 issued and more than 25,457 applications on file. Highly active patentees like Canon, Panasonic, Sony, Toshiba and Microsoft are not even close, with around 10,000-11,000 applications each.

What does Samsung know that others don’t? It’s hard to say. Perhaps they hope that at least some of their patents will read on their competitors’ products and will discourage them from filing infringement suits. This will do little to slow down NPEs, unless, of course, the NPE is a proxy for an operating company. Like Apple and Microsoft before them, outspending the competition on filing and/or litigation defense is a viable strategy for some players.

Might Samsung also believe, similar to the Japanese in the 1980s and 1990s, that it will be difficult to get a fair shake in U.S. courts (see Apple v. Samsung)? Relying on large numbers of patents, quality aside, to increase their likelihood of having some of them read on a potential adversary might discourage a law suit, or may provide bargaining leverage. It has worked for IBM.

Size vs. Quality

Patent portfolio size was of questionable help in Samsung’s much reported dispute with Apple, where it had been directed to pay Apple $1 billion in damages until the award was reduced two weeks ago by Judge Koh to $450 million. But no check has been written yet, and without an 3725709injunction, Apple’s victory is little more than a series of admittedly valuable headlines for it and a write-off for Samsung. Despite Apple’s tough talk, Samsung may find a silver lining by including some of its many patents in a licensing package that Apple would find acceptable. (Some companies see patent litigation as a very expensive form or licensing. It works better for some than others.)

The US Patent 100, similar to data provided in the past by CHI Research, now 1790 Analytics, monitoring patent filing and citation trends, suggests that analysis of the largest, fastest growing and most recognized (cited) portfolios can predict prowess. Certainly, size counts when it comes to patents (both in terms of portfolio breadth and claims), but it counts more to some than others.

IBM, now number two in U.S. patent grants (38,394) and applications (19,138), still has more grants over the past twenty years. Patent Vest suggests that divestitures to Google and Facebook, totally over 3,000, have brought down the number of IBM’s patents in-force. They do not mention IBM’s lapse rate, which I understand is among the highest. (Lapse can mean prudent management or it can mean that IBM didn’t care much about securing the patents in the first place, or does not think they will be very useful to anyone. It also may mean that once their goal of not allowing anyone to own a particular patent is achieved, there is little value in maintaining it.)

So, who has the better patent portfolio? I’m not sure that size, maintenance or citation frequency is very  indicative of quality or success. Those with the biggest portfolios often don’t have the best or most valuable patents. But size does count in court where discovery is costly, and time is money. Whose to say which patents at a given time have value to a particular business.

Who’s Gaming Whom?

It’s ironic that owning ten’s of thousands of questionable patents, those primarily intended to protect market share and slow competitors, is typically more meaningful to a businesses than a handful of well-crafted, timely rights that actually read on successful products.

Deployment of increasingly larger portfolios, like Samsung’s, makes it unclear as to who is really gaming the patent system, and who has the most useful inventions and best quality patents.

China, BTW, is now ahead of the Japan and second only to America in U.S. patent applications. Permitting innovation to become little more than a numbers game is likely to affect its future and the economy’s health.

Mark Cuban ought to think about that. His gutless tirade against “stupid” patents was documented in TechCrunch and dissected in IP Watchdog, and followed by a long stream of angry comments. When it comes to innovation rights, Mark is in no position to determine what is stupid.

Image source: locatetv.com

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USPTO Chief Lists Challenges at Columbia Gathering

Kappos: Make Patents More Relevant

United States Patent and Trademark Office Commissioner David Kappos said last week at a Columbia University Technology Ventures gathering that the USPTO is getting more involved in facilitating the use of IP rights for humanitarian and other social issues.

Kappos spoke for about 45 minutes as part of a monthly discussion of issues open to business, law, engineering students and faculty, as well as other members of the college community. Kappos suggested that IP rights can have a greater role in jobs creation and quality of life issues. He said the Office’s Fast Track Examination Procedure and  Green Technology Pilot Program have facilitated examinations for patent applications covering timely inventions. He cautioned about the need for these priorities to be granted fairly.

Commissioner Kappos also discussed highly critical issues such as patent examination backlogs, pendency and the need “to at least maintain the current level of patent quality” as well as improve it.

For the full video of Commissioner Kappos presentation at Columbia and audience questions, click on the image above.


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