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Court to consider reining in patent-related lawsuits

Some call it abuse of the system, while others say businesses and innovators are merely protecting their property. New Jersey businesses have been watching as the various sides of patent-related lawsuits have presented their arguments to the U.S. Supreme Court four times already this term, with two more cases to be heard within days.

The court is being asked to sort out some of the increasingly complex business litigation issues involving technology giants such as Google and Cisco, who claim that they are relentlessly subject to patent abuse lawsuits.

One law professor said the court is hearing so many patent-related cases because it “is worried and has been for years that patent power is too strong -- too many patents are issuing, too many people are being abused by them.”

Industries affected by the pending cases include pharmaceutical and manufacturing, in addition to high-tech.

Bloomberg reports that the court will be tested as it tries to balance the patent abuse claims with the rights of patent holders.

You might recall that a few months ago, the court ruled that patent holders always bear the burden of proving infringement on their intellectual property.

A professor of patent law at Emory University said the court holds “some hostility” toward patents. If accurate, that might benefit companies such as Amazon and Google, who argue that patent-holding firms often stake claims far beyond what their patents actually cover.

Few business disputes make find their way to the Supreme Court. Most are settled with the help of experienced business attorneys who understand the law, licensing issues and protection of a client’s interests in negotiations or at trial. 

Source: Bloomberg, "Patent Cases Ask U.S. Supreme Court to Curb Lawsuit Abuse," Susan Decker, April 24, 2014

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