Recent news in IP (Week of Mar. 3, 2017)

A few recent articles that have caught my eye:


The importance of balanced patent policy
Source: The Hill

I recommend this article for some clear thinking about the proper scope of patent enforcement.

At issue is a case at the ITC, in which a radiotherapy machine that has been judged to infringe some patents. Typically, this would result in the ITC putting in place an exclusion order barring the import of the infringing machines. In this case, however, there are evidently some people who are arguing that the public interest in having these medical devices available weighs against the entry of the exclusion order.

As the linked piece points out, this argument is bollocks. There are licensed, equally-functional alternatives to the infringing machine available from multiple sellers on the market, and the proposed exclusion order only bars the import of new infringing devices, and leaves the existing radiotherapy machines in place.

The patent law in the United States (as with most forms of IP) is a bargain designed to provide the structure that allows temporary market exclusivity in return for disclosure. When there is a clear-cut case like this, enforcing the patent law (and thus issuing the exclusion order) is the right thing to do.


IPR: Not Just for Litigants
Source: RPX Blog

One of the occasional strains in the drumbeat bemoaning IPRs is that organizations that have not been sued on patents still are able to challenge the patents in IPR and CBM proceedings. The linked article is RPX fighting back with data.

The summary is that non-litigants are relatively frequent IPR filers (top three non-litigant filers are ranked 12th, 35th, and 38th, respectively) and that, by and large, they do a relatively good job. RPX in particular looks good here, with a high institution and win rate.


Ropes & Gray Ending Patent Business
Source: Patently-O

Storied IP firm Ropes & Gray is leaving the patent prosecution business behind - presumably including a lot of the patent prosecutors it acquired from Fish & Neave a few years ago.

I would guess that this is a story of moving "up the stack" and focusing on more-lucrative litigation, with a side of reducing malpractice risk (don't blow deadlines!). Patent prosecution is a difficult business to make highly lucrative. Most companies impose caps or flat fees for patent prosecution, and that makes it harder to support the $800+ or $1000/hour fees that very large law firms want.

The Real Difference Between Google and Apple
Source: Fast.co Design

An interesting take on the "innovation signatures" of Apple and Google - basically a graph-based visualization of patent co-authorship. The big takeaway is that Apple's inventing activity is more highly concentrated, and that is representative of the greater concentration within Apple.

Unfortunately, IPWatchdog took this as an excuse to take a whack at Google. Only a motivated analysis would take the finding that Google has more patents than Apple (12.3K vs 10.9k), with more inventors (8.9k vs. 5.2k), in a wider variety of areas, and use that as "proof" that Google is less innovative and is a poster child for the non-existent boogeyman of "efficient infringement."