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SCOTUS Hears Patent Case Watched by Patent Trolls

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

The dream of patent litigation reform is nothing new. It is expensive. And so called patent trolls can pretty much get away with operating legal, government sanctioned, extortion schemes.

Even after strong patent reform was passed in 2011 basically targeting patent trolls, the problem has continued to persist. But interestingly, SCOTUS recently heard arguments in a case seeking to invalidate and challenge the somewhat new process of inter parties patent review by the USPTO. And based on the reports after the oral arguments, the Oil States v. Greene Energy case doesn't seem likely to disturb the newish process.

Fighting Back the Trolls

Inter parties review is a process whereby a patent can be challenged at the USPTO by someone who has allegedly infringed upon another's patent. The process can invalidate the prior patent, thereby preventing federal patent litigation from moving forward. And while the patent trolls can still threaten litigation, the inter parties review process gives patent holders a much more cost effective method of fighting off patent trolls.

While federal patent litigation can easily run over a million dollars in litigation costs, the inter parties review process cost a mere fraction of that.

Arguments in Agreement?

Though commentators noted that there was not a clear, obvious agreement between the justices based on the questioning, the majority seemed to lean towards upholding the inter parties review process.

Interestingly, rookie Justice Gorsuch not only appeared to agree with the petitioners seeking to invalidate the review process, he seemed interested in the idea of invalidating nearly all administrative adjudicative processes.

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