3 Intellectual Property Lawsuits Every Business Owner Should Understand
Intellectual property lawsuits are a reality of maintaining a productive IP portfolio. As one facet of your patent monetization efforts, you should be prepared to actively protect your patents – via legal proceedings, if necessary – to ensure other companies don’t use your patented invention to earn revenue.
Patent litigation requires an understanding of some of the landmark standards that have been seen in major, recent intellectual property lawsuits. The following three lawsuits have changed the game for patent infringement, licensing and injunctions.
1. Microsoft v. i4i: Supreme Court Rules Against Microsoft
If you are a smaller company experiencing patent infringement from enterprise organizations, you do not have to accept being pushed around the playing field.
Back in 2011, there was a high-profile intellectual property lawsuit in which the Supreme Court unanimously upheld a lower court ruling that software behemoth Microsoft infringed the patents of a small Canadian company, i4i. The ruling hinged on the strength of the presumption of “validity” for claims of a patent allowed by the USPTO.
Although Microsoft attempted to paint i4i as a “patent troll,” the small company withstood the legal fees and came out on top. An alleged infringer needs to show “clear and convincing” evidence in order to invalidate the claim in question at trial. Microsoft was forced to pay out $290 million for patent infringement.
If Microsoft had won the intellectual property lawsuit, however, it would have established a new precedent making it easier to invalidate a patent.
2. Ebay v. MercExchange: No Guarantee Of Injunction
Once you’ve proven before the court that someone has infringed upon your intellectual property, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are granted an injunction so they permanently cease infringing.
Back in 2000, eBay began negotiations to outright purchase MercExchange’s online auction IP portfolio – eBay had already been using practices from their patents at the time. Sometime in the middle of negotiations, eBay abandoned the purchasing effort and MercExchange sued eBay for patent infringement … and won.
After the verdict, MercExchange sought an injunction to prevent eBay’s continued use of its intellectual property. This time, the District Court denied their request. However, the Federal Circuit reversed the District Court, stating there was a “general rule that courts will issue permanent injunctions against patent infringement absent of exceptional circumstances.”
That being said, the Supreme Court ultimately overturned the Federal Circuit’s approval of the injunction, determining that an injunction should not be automatically issued based on a finding of patent infringement. Then, it also ruled that District Court originally erred in denying an injunction based on the fact that MercExchange does not practice their patented invention.
3. Microsoft v. Motorola: Jury Puts End to Patent Shenanigans
Not all intellectual property lawsuits are about patent infringement.
Back in 2011, Google bought Motorola Mobility for $12 billion. Many say the motivation of this purchase was Motorola’s IP portfolio – Google wanted to use it to fight back against certain Microsoft lawsuits. However, the Western District Court of Washington instructed Motorola to pay Microsoft $14.5 million for abusing those patent royalties by refusing to license standards-essential, “FRAND” patents at reasonable terms.
The verdict in this intellectual property lawsuit was a landmark decision and contributed to a growing list of regulators and courts sending the message that the best patent policies encourages use of patented, standards-essential subject matter paired with reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing practices.
Patent litigation simply comes with the territory of effectively managing your IP portfolio. However, there’s nothing simple about intellectual property lawsuits.
Whether you have in-house or outside counsel to guide your legal proceedings, it’s incredibly helpful to partner with a patent litigation support team that allows your legal team to focus on patent law by offering comprehensive support in the technical and legal aspects of a patent infringement lawsuit. Pre-trial planning, reverse engineering, invalidity analysis and excellent technical experts make all the difference in a verdict.
Ready to learn more about intellectual property lawsuits and find the right patent litigation support? Contact TechPats today.