This week’s Supreme Court ruling in Oil States v. Greene’s Energy was an vital victory for technology companies and innovators who face threats of patent litigation from entities that abuse the patent system by searching for to extract worth from innovators and firms that create jobs.
In Oil States, the Court dominated towards a constitutional problem to the executive course of on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) for disputing the validity of previously-granted, however questionable, patents—the sort which can be most utilized by so-called patent trolls. This course of known as inter partes evaluate (IPR), has develop into an vital device for combating frivolous infringement assertions based mostly on seemingly invalid patents in a manner that’s a lot inexpensive than testing these patents in federal courtroom.
Congress created the IPR course of with the America Invents Act of 2011 (AIA) in an effort to clear up what Congress noticed as an abundance of improperly granted patents, that are utilized by patent trolls to extract cash from innovators. Since the method was carried out in 2012, greater than 7,000 petitions have been filed, primarily to evaluate doubtful patents within the pc and high-tech area, and greater than 1,300 claims have been dominated invalid.
In the 7-2 majority opinion, Justice Thomas acknowledged that “[t]he choice to grant a patent is a matter involving public rights. Inter partes evaluate is just a reconsideration of that grant, and Congress has permissibly reserved the USPTO’s authority to conduct that reconsideration,” holding that the IPR course of doesn’t violate a patent proprietor’s constitutional proper to have a case adjudicated by a federal courtroom (the place the usual for cancelling a patent is larger and litigation prices are considerably dearer).
As with any entity creating, promoting, or implementing a fancy expertise, profitable corporations creating or implementing open supply are a lovely goal for litigation threats by patent trolls, so confirming the constitutionality of this course of not solely improves the standard of the patent system, but in addition retains a device to guard open supply expertise towards assaults from those who search to sport the system.
The PTO plans to evaluate the implementation of the IPR course of, which may have an effect on its effectiveness as a protection device. But these of us within the expertise trade will proceed to teach policymakers on the necessity to protect the advantages of the reforms contained within the AIA in an effort to defend innovation and discourage patent abuses.