“Patent marking” lawsuit craze

by Walter Olson on July 20, 2010

Now it’s caught up with Apple. Earlier here, here, here, etc. More: video from Washington Legal Foundation.

{ 2 comments }

1 Robin 07.22.10 at 12:09 pm

While I find the high dollar amounts being sought in these suits problematic, IMO claiming a patent after expiration is misleading. Patent implies uniqueness to most people, i.e. most people unfamiliar with the current state of affairs with patents. If there are no repercussions from claiming patents on products, then why not just slap any ol’ number on your product to give the impression that it is a patented invention?

I could agree that patents have already passed the point of offering any value except to lawyers. But either they mean something or they don’t and if the latter, then bar any patent markings at all.

2 J.T. Wenting 07.22.10 at 11:39 pm

“requests that the court take steps to ensure that Apple, Verizon, Sprint and Samsung Telecommunications America cannot falsely market their products in the future”

Brilliant. How would the court do that? The only way I can think of is to completely ban those companies from advertising their products at all, a clear 1st ammendment violation.

“, IMO claiming a patent after expiration is misleading”

Hardly, unless you’re a 3rd rate patent lawyer who looks at lists of patent numbers on competing products from those of his employers and then doesn’t read the actual patents, only the titles, to determine what’s covered under them.
No consumer actually bothers with patent numbers on products, unless he’s looking for a reason to sue the manufacturer (like in cases like this one).
Groups like this are trying to derail the patent system through the courts, by effectively forcing companies to review the list of patents put on their products and in manuals for every manufacturing run.

“I could agree that patents have already passed the point of offering any value except to lawyers.”

Wrong there, it’s just beginning. Lawyers are having a field day, earning massive amounts of money, trying to find obscure patents their employers own and finding reason to sue others left and right for infringement.
And as patents get ever more obscure and broad, this will only increase.

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