April 2008

Here’s a link to an interesting article in the May 5, 2008 issue of Forbes, that highlights the use of anonymous, ex parte requests for reexamination of issued patents to the Patent Office. The result of a reexamination is to stall enforcement of the patent.

The article highlights the plight of Anthony Brown, a lawyer who purchased the patent for compression of an electronic file for transmission over a communications line (think JPEG, this ubiquitous). Before Brown purchased this patent it had laid dormant (the fate of the vast majority of issued patents). After Brown purchased the patent and began a licensing/enforcement program –

“A petition filed in 2000 by parties unknown asked the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to reexamine whether the processes the patent described were novel enough to deserve a patent. The feds agreed to the review, a common practice if the questions raised seem substantial. The catch is that during the review the holder of the patent can’t demand licensing fees, and the patent’s life doesn’t get extended accordingly.

Read the full article

EDTex Giveth, CAFC Taketh Away

by Lee Gesmer on April 23, 2008

One of the largest jury verdicts in the notoriously plaintiff- friendly Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Texas was the June 2006 $79 million jury award, enhanced for wilfulnes by $25 million by U.S. District Judge Ron Clark in the case of Finisar Corporation v. DirectTV. (Note: Texas judges often have nicknames as their legal first names. It’s a Texas thing. If he were Massachusetts bred, he’d be Ronald Harrison Clark, III). In addition to this award, the judge refused Finisar a permanent injunction (applying the USSC eBay decision), but ordered DirectTV to pay a compulsory license of $1.60/set-top box until expiration of Finsar’s patent.

This judgment is no more. On April 18th the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that Judge Clark had misconstrued the term “downloading into a memory storage device.” You would think that such a simple term would be easy to construe, but apparently that wasn’t the case in Beaumont, Texas.… Read the full article

Behind The Scenes at Bear Stearns

by Lee Gesmer on April 23, 2008

I recently wrote about the Bear Stearns v. Sharon case. (See here and here). Here is a link to a Business Week article, “Bailing out of Bear,” that tells the gruesome story behind the Bear Stearns financial debacle and Bears’ suit against Doug Sharon, the star broker at Bear Stearns who left for Morgan Stanley.… Read the full article

We have followed the Rambus saga for some time. My last post linked to the Federal Trade Commission’s decision holding that Rambus had engaged in illegal monopolization and linking to an extended discussion by my partner, Andy Updegrove.

Today, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the FTC, holding that Rambus was not guilty of monopolization. Decision here. More to follow, as we have a chance to review this decision.… Read the full article