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Patent 'Trolling' Curbed By Supreme Court Decision to Uphold Review Process

patentlawyersincolorado.jpgIf you plan to file for patent protection, you'll likely need help from patent lawyers in Colorado to increase your chances of approval. Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office receives six times as many applications as it did in 1980. While many of these patents represent the advances made in technological innovations, not every patent is filed for the good of all humankind. In fact, some companies have embraced the practice of "patent trolling," wherein these organizations file for patents used for the purposes of demanding royalty payments and suing actual innovators, rather than inventing something unique and useful themselves. While the USPTO makes every effort to catch these attempts and deny patent approval to applications that do not fit the criteria, it's a massive undertaking that can sometimes result in granting approval to the wrong party. But now, patent trolls will be at a real disadvantage. In 2011, Congress created a procedure, called the inter parties review, that allows the USPTO to review and potentially cancel patents that have already been issued. This process lets the agency take a second look at their decision to resolve disputes and determine patent eligibility after the fact. Even though that sounds like an overwhelmingly positive idea, there are those who oppose it. Some people have maintained that this procedure is actually unconstitutional, saying that it violates a separation of powers, takes over the role of federal courts, and keeps patent holders from having their day in court. However, the Supreme Court ruled in late April, in a 7-to-2 vote, that the procedure was constitutional and have upheld the USPTO's official power to conduct reviews and cancel patents as it sees fit. Proponents see the decision as a real victory for businesses and innovators. Stephanie Martz, general counsel for the National Retail Federation, said in a statement that the ruling was "a major step toward stopping patent trolls and their attempts to commit extortion against retailers and other businesses that have done nothing wrong. Making it clear that many cases can and should be resolved by fixing patents rather than rushing to court to sue for infringement makes it much easier for our members to fight patent trolls." But those who dissented to the ruling point out that while cleaning up mistakes in such a way is more efficient, the patent protection rights of individuals may be restricted as a result. The idea of fighting patent trolls is certainly ethically appealing, especially to those who represent small businesses and independent innovators (like many patent lawyers in Colorado do). The dilemma and subsequent ruling will likely continue to remain at the forefront of consciousness for some time to come. Ultimately, this ruling will not deter all patent trolling. There are individuals and organizations out there who are determined to make money by taking advantage of the patent system. That's just one of the ways in which patent lawyers in Colorado can help you during this process. To find out more, please contact our offices today.

Patent Facts: Interesting Tidbits That Might Surprise You

patent lawyer inhoustonTo some, the subject of patents may seem a bit dry. After all, the process of obtaining a patent can be a bit tedious at times. But historically, patents have been involved in their share of controversies, intriguing stories, and ironic twists. We're sharing a few tidbits about patents in today's post that might raise your eyebrows, make you chuckle, or force you to realize that you'll need a qualified patent lawyer in Houston if you want to protect a unique invention of your own. Honest Abe Received Patent Protection
Abraham Lincoln is known for a great many accomplishments: he was a lawyer, a statesman, and eventually the sixteenth president of the United States. He's also credited with abolishing slavery, strengthening the economy, and being one of the top-rated leaders of the free world. But did you know he's also the only U.S. president to ever receive a patent while he was in office? In May of 1849, Lincoln received patent approval for "Buoying Vessels Over Shoals," an invention that lifts boats over river obstructions and shoals. The device was made up of large expandable bellows, which were to be attached to the sides of a boat to lift the vessel up and over things in its path. Interestingly enough, Lincoln actually worked as a patent attorney, so like your patent lawyer in Houston, he was quite familiar with the application process! The documentation for his patent wasn't actually discovered until 1997 -- more than 130 years after his death. Dick Cheney's Company Tried to Patent Patents
One former VP wasn't quite so accomplished in obtaining patents. Cheney's former company, Halliburton, filed for patent protection on "patent acquisition and assertion by a (non-inventor) first party against a second party" in 2007. Simply put, they wanted to have exclusive rights on the patent system so they could, as non-inventors, obtain patents on technology actually invented by others. If the actual inventors protected their products with trade secrets rather than patents, Halliburton would then sue those inventors for a lot of money. Basically, they tried to patent what's known as "patent trolling." They weren't granted a patent, of course, but it does illustrate how popular this practice has become. Speaking of which... Don't Feed the (Patent) Trolls
Ignoring social media trolls is typically a good policy, but you'll need to be proactive in preventing action by patent trolls. Patent trolling refers to when a company obtains rights to a patent (or several) so they can profit from licensing or litigation, rather than by producing their own products or services. In other words, a company that participates in this practice will apply for patents just so they can make companies (which actually make these products the honest way) pay up, either via obtaining rights or by filing lawsuits against them. According to a recent Boston University study, patent trolls cost U.S. business $29 billion a year. That's a significant increase from 2005 figures, which indicated the practice cost only $7 billion a year. Small and mid-sized businesses are hit really hard by these practices. While this practice might not be going anywhere soon, it's important that innovators like you consult with a patent lawyer in Houston to ensure inventions are actually protected. The Fire Hydrant Patent Went Up in Smoke (Literally)
In a twist of irony, no one actually knows who invented the fire hydrant... because its patent actually burned up in a blaze. The invention is typically credited to Frederick Graff Sr., the chief engineer of the Philadelphia Water Works. It's believed that the patent was granted in 1801, but because the Washington, D.C. patent office burned down in 1836 and destroyed all patent records up to that time, no one really knows. These factoids show that patents are anything but boring -- and how important it is to obtain patent protection if you've invented something truly special. Be sure to seek out a qualified patent lawyer in Houston to help you navigate this process and make certain your rights are adequately protected.

How to Find the Best Patent Lawyer for You and Your Situation

patentattorney.jpgIf you're an inventor or product creator, you've probably toyed with the idea of getting your products protected by patents. The four ways to protect intellectual property are patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. Out of all of these, patents are one of the most popular choice for protecting intellectual property. When it comes to getting a patent for your product, you should look into hiring a patent attorney or a patent lawyer. They can help you with the crucial first step of filing for a patent with the government, but they can also stand with you every step of the way during this complicated, lengthy process. So, how do you find the best patent attorney out there for you? Here are some tips.

Is My Invention Protected During the 'Patent Pending' Process?

patent lawyer in denverIn 2016, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued 303,051 different patents to innovators across the country. But as your patent lawyer in Denver will have told you, the patent process can be a lengthy and tedious one. Patents can protect your invention from being copied and sold by another company, but when does this patent protection actually start?

Disney uses patent law to protect new 'Star Wars' project

When inventors come up with new ideas, those ideas may come a little at a time. For example, a Texas inventor may have a plan for a new technology but may not have developed a precise use for the technology. Patent law protects the first person to file for a patent, not the first person to conceive of an idea.

iRobot settles patent law dispute with Black and Decker

Ideas are the driving force behind new innovations and technology. Someone comes up with an idea, develops it, patents it and brings it to the consumer. As the Texas consumer grasps onto the new idea, the company's market share and profitability increase. Along with this financial increase, there is typically also an increase in competition. Fortunately, patent law offers protection to the patented intellectual property.

PXG and TaylorMade involved in patent law dispute

Specific products are often created for a specific purpose and to meet a specific need. Sometimes ideas for a new or improved product suddenly become apparent; some ideas are born from experience with another product. Once the new or improved idea begins to take shape, the Texas product's developer will often take measures to protect the idea and new product. This protection is often under the auspices of patent law with the filing of a patent on the product.

Patent law affords protection for the Texas inventor

After months or even years of coming up with ideas, developing them and implementing them, the Texas inventor is ready to share his or her invention with others. Often, this involves approaching other companies or the general public with the new invention. Prior to such action, one will want to make sure the invention is protected and patented if possible. Patent law protection may prove to be a critical component to the inventor.

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