Hedge fund IPRs, Apple Watch, Juno, Novartis, Google, USPTO – the week in IP
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Hedge fund IPRs, Apple Watch, Juno, Novartis, Google, USPTO – the week in IP

The question of whether hedge funds are able to challenge patents through IPRs, a trade mark potentially delaying Apple Watch’s launch in Switzerland, Juno and Novartis agreeing a $12.3m settlement, Google joining the LTE Patent Pool, and the USPTO issuing Patent No. 9,000,000 were in the IP headlines this week

Are hedge funds abusing IPRs?

Two blogs ran interesting analysis of a recent trend of hedge funds using inter partes review petitions at the PTAB to make drugs more affordable or to short sell pharma stock, depending on who you believe. The most recent petition of this type came this week when hedge fund manager Kyle Bass and IP Nav’s Erich Spangenberg targeted a fourth pharmaceutical company through an IPR.

Gene Quinn on the IP Watchdog blog asked whether Bass is abusing the patent system or is a genius.

“Regardless of whether you believe Bass is doing a public service, or he is engaged in an unforeseen abuse of process, an important question remains: Is Bass able to use IPR to challenge patent claims in this way?” asked Quinn. “Unfortunately, the answer is complicated due to the fact that the statute seems to suggest one answer, while the legislative history suggests a different answer.”

Oblon’s Scott McKeown on the Patents Post-Grant blog said he believed the hedge fund filings will fail. “With the negative publicity surrounding these filings, and, if true, their reported abusive purposes, can the PTAB shut them down? Yes, and I expect that they will,” said McKeown.

He pointed out the USPTO director can prescribe sanctions for “improper use of the proceeding”. He added said the PTAB need only issue an order to show cause about why petitions should not be dismissed as an improper use of limited agency resources. “Congress created AIA trial proceeding to combat trolls, not create an altogether new class of them,” said McKeown.

Financiers were one of the types of “PTAB Crashers” identified by Kenyon & Kenyon’s IPR Blog this week.


apple20watch.jpg Apple Watch not running like clockwork in Switzerland

Apple will not be able to immediately sell its Apple Watch in Switzerland because of an existing trade mark, according to reports.

A company called Leonard Timepieces has a trade mark registered in 1985 on an image of an apple with the word “APPLE” on it.

The trade mark is set to expire on December 5 this year.

The Apple Watch will go on sale in nine countries (Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and the United States) on April 24.

novartis20logo.jpg Juno and Novartis settle

Pharmaceutical companies Juno Therapeutics and Novartis Pharmaceuticals have settled a patent dispute.

The dispute with Novartis began in 2012 over patent rights owned by St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and Juno became involved the following year when it entered a licence agreement with St Jude’s.

Novartis will pay Juno $12.3 million as well as mid-single-digit royalties from US sales of products related to the patent claims. It will also pay a percentage of royalties paid to St Jude’s for global sales of those products.

Juno will share the payments with St Jude’s.


Google joins LTE Patent Pool

Google has joined Via Licensing’s LTE (Long Term Evolution) Patent Pool, which aggregates LTE wireless patents from patent holders for the purpose of offering fair, predictable and cost-effective royalties for LTE patents.


“Google's contribution of patents to Via's LTE licensing program is significant, especially in that it includes the impressive portfolio of LTE standard essential patents originally owned by Motorola Mobility and Motorola,” said Via. “Google's decision to participate in the pool underscores the success and value of Via's LTE Patent Pool, which simplifies licensing by aggregating LTE essential patents from multiple patent owners and greatly reduces the risk of patent litigation for companies developing products and services that use LTE technology.”

Other participants offering a license to their essential patents through the pool include AT&T, China Mobile, Clear Wireless, Deutsche Telekom, DTVG Licensing, Hewlett-Packard, KDDI, NTT DOCOMO, SK Telecom, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and ZTE Corp.

uspto.jpg USPTO issues Patent No. 9,000,000

The USPTO this week issued its nine millionth patent.

It was awarded to a system and method for collecting and conditioning rainwater and other moisture from a windshield of a vehicle and using the collected fluid to replenish the windshield washer reservoir.

In other USPTO-milestone-related news, today is the 225th anniversary of the Patent Act, enacted on April 10 1790.

Also on the blog this week:

IP Finance conference will reveal how best to tap IP’s potential

Spotlight on Zynga

In our news and analysis this week:

Globalised supply chains present damages calculations challenges

Hogan Lovells adds partner in San Francisco from Novak Druce

An effective way to challenge patent applications pre-grant

PTAB petitions pass the 3,000 barrier in March

Kramer Levin adds two life sciences partners in New York

PTAB institutes proceedings on two Smartflash patents in $533m Apple loss

Federal Circuit rules CBM proceedings begin after institution

Bass and Spangenberg target another pharma company through IPR

Data – Apple and Toyota dominate March PTAB filings

What is Spiderman's take on post-expiration patent royalties?

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