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It's been years since infamous patent troll NTP actually developed any new intellectual property or looked to produce anything. Yet it's just launched its biggest suit yet, suing Microsoft, Google, Apple, and more.  (Source:
Life is good for NTP -- they don't have to make anything to make money, they just sue people who do

The last time notorious Virginia-based patent troll NTP, Inc. climbed out of its cave was back in 2007 to sue Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Nextel for patent infringement.  We guessed at the time that we hadn't seen the last of the firm.  We were right.

NTP, Inc. just filed a massive new suit against Apple, Google, Microsoft, HTC, LG, and Motorola claiming the firms are in massive violation of its patents on wireless email technologies.  One has to wonder, even given NTP, Inc.'s vast experience in litigation, if it has this time bit off more than it can chew by declaring war on virtually all the tech industry's top players (well... besides IBM, HP, and Dell -- maybe they're next).

The firm does have a significant victory under its belt from a $612M USD settlement with Blackberry maker Research in Motion over the same technologies.  After its loss, RIM fought to invalidate NTP's patents.  It succeeded in getting some examined and overturned, but improper dealings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office weighed heavily on its reexamination requests, leading to 67 claims in four of NTP reviewed patents surviving.

With those patents intact, NTP still had enough ammo to apparently go gunning for the top players in the smart phone industry today.  NTP's cofounder Donald E. Stout complains, "Use of NTP's intellectual property without a license is just plain unfair to NTP and its licensees. Unfortunately, litigation is our only means of ensuring the inventor of the fundamental technology on which wireless email is based, Tom Campana, and NTP shareholders are recognized, and are fairly and reasonably compensated for their innovative work and investment. We took the necessary action to protect our intellectual property."

NTP -- or at least its other co-founder -- at one time could be considered an innovator in the fields of internet software and electronics.  It was co-founded with the late inventor Thomas J. Campana Jr. who invented and patented a form of push email back in 1990.  Campana Jr.'s numerous patents formed the basis of NTP's IP library.

In recent years, though NTP has developed no new technology and has only subsisted off a career of zealous litigation against companies like RIM and others who actually produce products.  Palm was among NTP's other recent victims, being sued back in 2006.

Such patent battles typically drag out for some time in court, so the conclusion of this one may not come for some time.

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RE: patent trolls
By choadenstein on 7/11/2010 1:02:20 PM , Rating: 3
This in itself is prone to disagreements mainly because the length of time spent researching means many companies have the same design on their drawing boards so first in gets the prize when often the later entry really gets the science right but is restricted by the early entrant. This means often we all lose out.

This is actually not the case in the US. The US has a first to invent system while most of the rest of the world uses a first to file system. When you file in the US, if there is a conflict, both sides must prove when they first had possession of the invention.

As I see it the four big problems with patents is the length of time the protection lasts

This, unfortunately is too simplistic of a view. I agree with you in terms of software patents, where 17-20 years is insane. However, in Pharma, where it takes 7-10 years to get your product to market (i.e., FDA approval, etc..) and it takes another 3-4 years to recoup your R&D cost. Typically, pharma patents are only profitable for the last 3-4 years of its life.

My view is that there needs to be various lengths to patent protection based on the art the patent is involving.

the time taken to process the application and the actual cost of application and defence

This is a factor of so many applications coming in that the Examiner's cannot handle it all. Simple solution is to higher more Examiner's. Shouldn't be a problem, we have plenty of unemployed people.

Also, the USPTO is one of the few branches of the US Gov. that is actually profitable. So do not say it would end up costing us more. Actually, more Examiner's means more rejections, which means more responses, which means more fees. Good for Gov...

Cost of application. Debatable, but for small entities (companies with less than 500 people) a patent filing is only $470 ($110 for a provisional). That's not that bad. It's the attorneys fees that get you... But you can get freelancers to do the patents for a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars.

Defense of patents... Any litigation is expensive. Insert lawyer jokes here...

BTW. I ask everyone not to lose sight of what patents are meant to do and how they do actually help the scientific community.

The reason for patents is as follows. In exchange for a patent, we require that an inventor publically disclose his/her invention so that, once the patent expires, everyone is able to duplicate and replicate his invention. Otherwise, he would not reveal to the public how something is made/manufactured/accomplished. Trade secrets would rule, and every company would just hide and conceal every new invention they come up with. THIS would stymie the scientific community. If a new drug came out, and instead of publishing the chemical compound, others would have to try to reverse engineer, re-test, get approval from the FDA on new trials, etc... That would be a true tragedy in the scientific community. Instead, we say, we'll protect your invention for a period of time, just tell us what you did and how you did it.

I feel like a lot of people only think of the software/electronics world when thinking of patents. You must review the system in its entirety. Software/electronics developments happen rapidly. Parma/Bio/Chem - not as fast.

What we need is a patent system that differentiates between the various fields.

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