Inventor Update: Spring 2017
There is nothing imminent regarding patents on the legislative front. There is a growing push to clear up patent eligibility issues under 35 U.S.C. § 101. There is also likely to be some action at the patent office to improve and streamline regulations per President Trump's 2-for-1 executive order on new regulations.
- 1/31: IPO adopts resolution supporting legislation to amend 35 U.S.C. § 101
- 3/24: USTPO forming working group on regulatory reform.
Judicial and PTAB Decisions
The start of 2017 has seen mixed results for patent owners in the courts. The Supreme Court rejected the laches defense in patent cases. However, patents continue to be invalidated in droves through IPRs and Alice-based eligibility challenges. Additionally, Cascades is challenging whether a patent is a private or public right.
- 3/21: SCA Hygiene Prods. V. First Quality Baby Prods (doctrine of laches cannot bar legal damages claims in patent cases)
- 2/16: Cascades Projection v. Epson and Sony (whether a patent right is a public right)
The Supreme Court will soon decide an important case on patent venue in TC Heartland v. Kraft. If decided for Kraft, patent owners may be limited on where they can bring infringement actions to "(i) a district within the state of incorporation, or (ii) a district where the corporation has a regular and established place of business and has allegedly committed an act of infringement."
Two of the largest patent licensing companies, Intellectual Ventures and WiLAN, are reducing their efforts in the patent business. These moves reflect the challenging environment facing patent owners. Both companies had several adverse decisions at the USPTO and in the courts.