They “tap” money from the people who manufacture, use, or sell technology just because they’re doing what they usually do: walk across the bridge the patent troll lurks beneath.
You may think that, in the context of the corona virus pandemic and the declining economic situation, the threats surrounding patent issues will be lessened somewhat. After all, many companies – especially small ones – are struggling to maintain their businesses. And about 32% of lawsuits triggered by patent trolls target small and medium enterprises.
But that is not what is happening. In fact, the number of “patent troll” cases has skyrocketed this year – 20% higher than last year, and 30% higher than in 2018. According to statistics, the “patent troll” floods has filed 470 lawsuits in the first 4 months of 2020.
Unjustly demanding patent money is an act that has great consequences for the economy. In times of crisis, it was a bad deed; In times of recession, things are even more painful. Patents troll money that the struggling companies cannot get; and well-off companies will have to spend less on spending on R&D and product improvement.
The lawsuit situation in general has not only increased, but there are high-level lawsuits that will impact companies that are directly involved in health support activities. A case in point last month, Labrador Diagnostics LLC, a patent troll sued a company specialized in manufacturing and distributing COVID-19 test kits, taking advantage of patents it acquired from Theranos. , a blood test fraud company that is now bankrupt.
Another case is a frontrunner company called Swirlate IP, which has acquired a patent describing the general data transmission process, and used it to sue five different companies – including ResMed, A company that makes ventilators. Other targets include Livong Health, Corning Optical Communications, Badger Meter, and Continental Automotive.
What company is Swirlate? It is a limited liability company based in a … shopping center in Texas (USA). Unified Patents, the company that offered $ 3,000 for an original work in one of Swirlate’s patents, contacted Swirlate with IP Edge – a major patent firm, owned by the three lawyers. In the field of intellectual property, it controls a range of frontline companies like Swirlate, which they use to hold patents and sue operating companies. IP Edge’s pioneering companies are heavily talked about on the internet, and IP Edge itself is considered one of the most sued troll patents of all time.
Back to the aforementioned case: Swirlate IP is taking advantage of two similar patents to sue ResMed, namely patents 7,567,622 and 7,154,961. When you study carefully, you will see that patent 622 describes the process of data transmission merely.
For example, in this patent there is a section about “module division of data packets” – a common and traditional procedure that can be performed by any computer connected to the internet, that not to mention analog technology. Everything is done according to a “modularized model”, which can be any kind of technology standard available in the world – patents simply do not describe that model.
The next steps describe using a “diverse branch”, using a “receiver”, “re-transmitting” data packets when the first transmission is not decoded and “de-modularized”. Successfully transmitted data. There is no description of what to do. The products sued, such as ResMed’s BiPAP ventilator, use standard technology such as LTE transmission.
Unfortunately, this is a patent we constantly see along with other technology patents. It is especially serious in this situation because the IP Edge executive lawyers aim to profit from a lawsuit against a company directly involved in the COVID-19 pandemic.
This patent originally belonged to Panasonic, but was sold in 2015; it eventually fell to Swirlate in April. But Panasonic did not invent the process of ARQ retransmission, or the various methods of data transmission that were generally agreed upon by international standards-setting organizations. And it certainly did not invent LTE, an international data transmission protocol, completed in 2008.
However, in the hands of Swirlate, this patent is being used to sue other products that use LTE technology every day. This is not the first time Panasonic has sold patents to patent trolls; In 2018, it sold a series of patents to Wi-LAN, a Dutch patent company.
What is the solution here? The government should take immediate action to eliminate patent abusers that are making it difficult to cope with the COVID medical crisis. But that is only part of the solution. Three of Swirlate’s goals are not health care companies.
Other protections against such threats are needed, including a robust evaluation system for checking registered patents, and patent conversion laws for companies want to file lawsuits involving low quality patents. Finally, “generic” patents should be rejected, with regulations tightening the patent process for innocuous ideas.