Patent Troll Lawsuits Rare In Device Industry, But May Increase, Attorneys Say
This article was originally published in The Gray Sheet
Patent attorneys suggest lawsuits from firms that buy up device patents purely to pursue litigation, which appears to have occurred recently with Medtronic’s kyphoplasty patents, may become a more common occurrence.
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The inter partes review process, which provides a non-court strategy for invalidating patents, could conceivably come to an end depending on the Supreme Court's ruling in a case this spring. Device firms have been wary of the IPR process, which can weaken patent protections, but attorneys point out that it has also been a helpful tool in fighting against the growing threat of patent trolls in medtech. While bets are for upholding the system, legal experts say device companies could fall back to other processes previously used to stop patent trolls.
A patent review board found that a remote monitoring patent owned by a “non-practicing entity” was invalid due to obviousness. So-called "patent troll" cases had been relatively rare in the device arena, but there has been an increase in activity.
With the legislative calendar winding down, the chances for passage of a patent bill in 2014 are waning, but lawmaker efforts targeting patent trolls should not be ignored because they hold serious potential risks for small device firms, an attorney says.