February 2009

Worthless Patents

by Lee Gesmer on February 25, 2009

Worthless Patents

Once you get a patent, it costs a lot to maintain it. For most categories of patentees, the maintenance fees after issuance are $980, $2,480 and $4,110 at 3.5 years, 7.5 and 11.5 years, respectively. If the fee is not paid, the patent is forfeited.

Top patent blogger Dennis Crouch has an interesting set of statistics on his site, discussing the “fall-off” rate of maintenance fees paid at the end of each of these periods, beginning in July 1998. The non-renewal rate is significant. As Mr. Crouch observes, the non-renewals shorten the life of the median patent from 17 years to 12 years. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the study, and a scatter plot graphic.

It’s no great surprise that many patents fail to survive, but it’s interesting to see just how many are abandoned because their owners don’t deem it to be worth the expense to keep them alive.… Read the full article

The Short and Simple Story of the Credit Crisis

by Lee Gesmer on February 25, 2009

As I showed in an earlier post, you don’t need some Ivy League economics professor or former Federal Reserve member to explain the credit crisis. A cartoon will do.

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.… Read the full article

Patent Case Management Judicial Guide

by Lee Gesmer on February 18, 2009

A number of private-practice lawyers, along with an extensive Judicial Advisory Board, have published a Patent Case Management Judicial Guide. The document is labeled “draft,” but it appears final in most respects, and is freely available for use. Perhaps the authors are using the term “draft” in the same way that Google uses the term “beta” – even when the product is mature and in widespread use, the beta label remains.

Although this 500-plus page document has not been formally adopted by the federal courts, it is likely to serve as an important procedural and substantive guide to federal judges, and therefore is well worth including in any patent litigation library, particularly if a party is before one of the advisory judges. The judges involved in the Advisory Board (a “who’s who” of patent judges) includes Judge Patti B. Saris in the District of Massachusetts.

Link to the SSRN page here.Read the full article

The Face of Evil May Be Behind The Judge’s Bench

by Lee Gesmer on February 13, 2009

The Face of Evil May Be Behind The Judge's Bench

Judge: Miss West, are you trying to show contempt for this court?’
Mae West: On the contrary, your Honor, I was doin’ my best to conceal it.’
(During a trial in which she was accused of indecency on stage)

“The thing to fear is not the law, but the judge”
Russian Proverb

“One bad apple ruins the barrel”


History is replete with judges who are open to bribery, who serve special interests or who are otherwise corrupt.  We often read of judges who are sanctioned or prosecuted for misconduct. When a person dons a judge’s robe her character and values don’t change.

Despite the long history of judicial misconduct, I still was surprised to read about this kickback scheme in the February 13, 2009 New York Times. Quoting excerpts from the article:

[O]n Thursday . . . judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., and a colleague, [judge] Michael T. Conahan, appeared in federal court in Scranton, Pa.,

Read the full article