Quinn, Cuban talk software patents, business of innovation

Recently, IPWatchdog.com has published a series of articles relating to Mark Cuban’s activities and views relative to the patent system. (See here, here and here.) Cuban is no stranger to the patent policy debate, and has gone on the record numerous times explaining that he thinks software patents should be abolished. In fact, he famously donated $250,000 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation for the creation of the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents.

In the comments to the aforementioned articles, Mark Cuban engaged in a spirited back and forth with readers, and with me. I invited him to do an interview with me. He agreed and we conducted an e-mail interview. To read the full interview, please see A patent conversation with Mark Cuban.


Litigation Abuse: The “Problem” of Patent Trolls

Gene QuinnThe term “patent troll” conjures up all kinds of images and ideas, but what is a patent troll?  The answer is that there is really no universally accepted definition of what a patent troll is.  In the most common sense of the term, it is usually reserved for those who acquire patents from inventors or companies, perhaps through bankruptcy, auction or otherwise, and then turn around and sue giants of industry for patent infringement.  In this situation, patent trolls are typically extremely well funded, they are not engaging in any commerce, so they do not fear a patent infringement counter-claim because they are not infringing, or doing, anything.

Over time, however, as the debate has matured and many with a patent reform agenda seek to weaken patent rights in hopes of solving their short-term litigation concerns, the term patent troll has morphed to mean any non-practicing entity. Such a definition of patent troll is overly broad, though, because it collects many entities that are simply not doing anything other than pursuing the American dream. These individuals and entities include universities, independent inventors, research & development companies, and federal laboratories. Indeed, such a list of innovators has typically been one that has been celebrated, not reviled.

But there are, of course, bad actors.


JPO Grants Patent for European Patent Validation System

A leading foreign filing platform provider, inovia, has been granted patent protection by the Japanese Patent Office for the technology behind its European patent validation service.  The company now has a Japanese patent (Japanese patent number 2008-509268) to go along with patents in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa.

“Japan has a reputation for being one of the toughest countries to award patents, so we’re proud that our European validation technology has been recognized as an important innovation for the Japanese market,” shared Justin Simpson, inovia Founder and Patent Attorney.

inovia also has a pending U.S. patent application on the european validation technology.  U.S. Patent Application No. 20080201334 claims as priority the PCT filing that lead to issuance of the patent in the aforementioned countries.  The ‘334 application explains that the invention relates to a “computer system…designed to send a validation instruction message to a number of European attorneys, asking them to validate a granted European patent.”


USPTO Plans National Roadshow on AIA Implementation

The United States Patent and Trademark Office will once again take to the road in the Fall of 2012 to discuss implementation of the America Invents Act (AIA). The USPTO is planning to host eight (8) roadshows during September 2012 to share information about new final rules implementing provisions of the America Invents Act that become effective on September 16, 2012. The Roadshows are free and open to the public, and pre-registration is not required. Nevertheless, seating will be limited and is available only on a first-come, first-served basis. The USPTO has posted the agenda
for these Roadshows on their website.

The USPTO will webcast the roadshows during the first week (from Minneapolis, Alexandria, and Los Angeles) and post videos of those events on the micro-site. Copies of any written materials will also be made available on the USPTO micro-site devoted to the AIA Roadshows.
While attorneys are certainly invited to attend these Roadshow presentations, no CLE credit is available for attending any Roadshow event.


Spotting Inventors You Might Want to Avoid

To paraphrase the famous quote of Ralph Waldo Emerson, if you build a better mouse-trap the world will make a beaten path to your door. Inventors and entrepreneurs frequently take this quote all too literally, thinking that if they make a better product theirs will sell and make them rich beyond their wildest dreams.

There are, of course, many different reasons why building a better mouse-trap is only the first of many steps on the road to financial freedom. There is no guarantee of financial success given by any patent office in the world. This is true even if you have a strong patent that covers a great product that enjoys robust consumer demand.

But this won’t stop many inventors from attempting to patent some rather peculiar inventions. Chances are that the more peculiar the invention, the more likely the inventor is going to want the patent attorney or patent agent to work for free, or on some kind of contingency basis. If an inventor like this approaches you, even if they seem normal, do yourself a favor and just say NO!