Also on the blog in the past week were:
Africa IP news round-up (July 2016)
Guest post: A smoother road thanks to TM5 harmonisation efforts
Has the PTAB peaked already?
Users of Madrid System warned about problems
ASEAN and more in our bumper mid-year issue
We’ve also posted the following articles in the past week (log in via subscription or free trial):
Patent litigation trends in Russia
Federal Circuit’s en banc MedCo ruling clarifies on-sale bar
Interview: Nakeena Taylor of Pandora, corporate counsel, Pandora
PTAB grants motion to amend ContentGuard patent in Google/Apple CBM
Data: PTAB petitioners, patent owners and law firms in 2016’s first half ranked
The Marrakesh Treaty comes into force – what impact will it have?
PTAB grants attorneys fees for first time, to RPX
Apple pays $25m to settle Network-1 patent litigation
Physical markets can be forced to stop sales of fakes - CJEU
Nokia and Samsung expand cross licence
Nokia and Samsung have expanded their patent cross license agreement to cover certain additional patent portfolios of both parties. Nokia’s deal with Samsung was previously extended in 2013. Compensation related to that agreement was determined by arbitration between the two companies announced in February this year.
The agreement expands access for each company to patented technologies of the other. Nokia said the agreement “reinforces Nokia's leadership in technologies for the programmable world”, and expects a positive impact to the net sales of Nokia Technologies starting from the third quarter of 2016. As a result of the expanded agreement, Nokia Technologies' annualized net sales related to patent and brand licensing is expected to grow to a run rate of approximately €950 million by the end of 2016, said Nokia in a statement.
As noted by Fortune, since 2013 Nokia has bought out Siemens’ stake in joint venture Nokia Siemens Networks and bought Alcatel-Lucent. This added 3,700 patent families from the Siemens deal and 17,500 patent families from Alcatel-Lucent to the 9,900 patent families held by Nokia Technologies.
"With intellectual property portfolios from Nokia Technologies, Nokia Networks and Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia has a wealth of technologies relevant to mobile devices and beyond," said Ramzi Haidamus, president of Nokia Technologies in the Nokia statement. "We welcome this expanded agreement with Samsung which recognizes the strength of our assets, and we continue to pursue new licensing opportunities across a number of diverse industries."
Professors call for venue reform
A letter signed by 45 professors has been sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee supporting patent venue reform.
“Changes to the venue rules are necessary and urgent to address the significant problem of forum shopping in patent litigation cases,” said the letter.
The professors noted that the Eastern District of Texas is home to nearly half of all US district court patent cases, with one judge handling 1,686 of the cases filed in the district in 2015 – or two-thirds of the patent cases in the district.
“If all of those cases were to go to trial, that single judge would have to complete four to five trials every day of the year (including weekends) – not counting any time for motions or other hearings. The burden of this overwhelming number of cases leads, unsurprisingly, to a high reversal rate on appeal,” said the letter.The Federal Circuit affirmed 39% of the decisions from the Eastern District of Texas in 2015.
“It is imperative that Congress address patent venue reform to return basic fairness, rationality, and balance to patent law,” said the letter. “Specifically, venue reform that treats plaintiffs and defendants equally by requiring a substantive connection to the venue on the part of at least one party is critical to ensure fairness and uniformity in patent law.”
Last week, Senator Jeff Flake (right) slammed patent trolls while advocating for the VENUE Act, which only has two co-sponsors.
“Patents are an important part of our economy and are vital to promoting innovation and spurring growth. However, the health of the patent system is at risk,” Observer quoted Senator Flake as saying. “Specifically, there is an ever-increasing problem of frivolous patent lawsuits brought by non-practicing entities, also known as patent trolls.”
Adidas puts foot down
Patent disputes appear to be increasingly afoot in the sneaker industry. Adidas recently sued Skechers in the District of Oregon, claiming its patented technology of a “Springblade” shoe has been infringed, reports Forbes.
Skechers’ Mega Flex shoe shares similarities with Adidas’ Springblade shoe, released in 2013.
Both have turned blades on the bottom designed to propel runners forward.
Nike earlier this year also sued Skechers for allegedly copying sneaker designs. Skechers took the fight to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, filing eight petitions challenging Nike’s design patents.
Adidas also recently filed three petitions challenging Nike patents.
A first for Guangzhou IP Court
|Guangzhou IP Court, as of December 31 2015|
|Number of |
|Number of cases closed|
|Civil case||1st instance||2,880||720||139||554|
|Source: Jiaquan IP Law|
The Guangzhou IP Court in China has issued what is believed to be its first preliminary injunction in a patent infringement case.
According to The Fashion Law, the court ordered Guangzhou Wentan Trading to cease making and selling nine models of Louboutin lipstick that the luxury fashion brand claimed infringed its design patents for lipstick cases.
The Guangzhou IP Court was established in December 2014, and is one of three IP courts in China, along with Beijing and Shanghai.
According to an update from Jiaquan IP Law, the court has had a high number of IP cases, with 4,940 cases accepted by the end of 2015, with 3,393 of those cases closed.
More than 200 of the cases had a party from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan or foreign countries, with 83 of those cases involving US entities while “a couple of cases involve British, French and Japanese entities,” according to Jiaquan IP Law.
Yahoo’s serious severity issues
Yahoo may struggle to sell its patent portfolio, according to a recent report. A survey by TurboPatent estimated that 44% of its patents have “high severity” issues, reports Fortune.
TurboPatent analysed 1,757 Yahoo patents and 896 patent applications in the Excalibur portfolio.
“TurboPatent's analysis found Yahoo!'s Excalibur patent portfolio contains a much higher percentage of potentially worthless patents than the average patent portfolio,” said the company in a statement. In contrast, it said roughly 30% of the average patent portfolio of large corporations is worthless. An executive summary of the report can be viewed here.
Yahoo today revealed a $440 million loss in the second quarter, according to the BBC.
The patents behind Pokémon Go
It has been impossible to avoid stories about Pokémon Go in the past week. Inevitably, there is an IP angle. In a blog post, Envision IP analysed Nintendo’s patent portfolio to see how it is protecting the technologies powering games such as Pokémon Go.
According to Envision IP, Nintendo owns more than 70 US patents and has 37 pending related to augmented, mixed and virtual reality hardware and software. Globally, it owns more than 180 patents and published applications related to these types of patents. These patents include aspects such as three-dimensional data processing, displaying immersive scenes, creating virtual spaces, motion and movement sensors for portable devices, eye tracking and visual data overlays.
The company owns almost 1,200 active in-force US patents as a whole, up from about 1,000 in 2013.
“While Nintendo continues to re-invent itself with innovative offerings like Pokémon Go, the company has done a good job in obtaining patent protection for its proprietary technologies,” concluded Envision IP. “Many of its technologies related to immersive display processing and hardware for devices which enable true augmented experiences for users are similar to those technologies found in non-gaming applications of wearable devices and AR glasses.”