Manatt IP Co-Chair Comments on Increasing Number of Patent Infringement Claims
"In the Wake of Apple v. Samsung: Is Patent Litigation on the Rise?"
August 28, 2012 - Manatt's Robert Becker, co-chair of the firm's Intellectual Property Practice, spoke to CRN about the uptick in patent infringement litigation.
CRN, a news and analysis publication for VARS and technology integrators, reports that patent infringement lawsuits seem to be cropping up with increasing regularity. Getting a lot of attention are recent lawsuits involving major players, such as Apple and its wars with Motorola and Samsung.
Years ago, antitrust suits were all the rage, said Becker, and today it's patent infringement cases in the spotlight.
"One thing I've noticed is that this is a pendulum. For a bit, decisions are favoring patent holders and then they go the other way," said Becker. "It's a delicate balance where we protect rights, but not [too much], so that we don't stifle innovation."
There is less incentive to innovate when patents are too broadly or too narrowly defined. Too broad a definition means companies may shy away from innovation in fear that their work will profit their competitors, and too narrow a definition means similar innovations will be patented, resulting in more litigation. The ultimate patent infringement penalty is injunction, whereby a company can be prohibited from conducting certain business.
To help innovators safeguard against patent infringement lawsuits, Becker offered some tips:
1. It's easy to do research and see what sorts of lawsuits are out there; so many people are accused of using the same patent. You can also hire a search firm.
2. Note that it is difficult to do a patent search to see if you're free to operate. Often, the only option is to move forward and wait for a cease and desist letter. If it arrives, and if you desist, the issue goes away. Many companies opt to monitor the situation, waiting to see if another company goes to court with the plaintiff. Should the defendant win, you can start up again, and you've saved the cost of a trial.
3. Go to the patent office and look at the patents of your competitors. Learn who are the most litigious. Forewarned is forearmed.
Read the article here.