A U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday is expected to increase the degree of difficulty for non-practicing entities – aka patent trolls – to sue technology companies over intellectual property claims.
The court ruled unanimously against a three-decade old standard that allowed patent holders to sue companies in pretty much any jurisdiction they chose – with a lot of them choosing districts with a reputation for moving quickly and ruling in the plaintiffs’ favor. One federal district in east Texas has been handling about 40 percent of lawsuits filed in the country.
The court ruled that that companies can only be sued for patent infringement in districts where they have a regular and established place of business. And not of lot of them are operating in east Texas. This is seen as bad news for these non-practicing entities – companies that exist mostly or entirely to sue people over the patents they acquired – because they’ll have to take their chances in less familiar and potentially less favorable settings.
This means – and I would seriously not advocate this – if a patent troll wanted to go after Chris Riegel and Stratacache, it has to file in Ohio.
In a slightly weird twist, even though the patent troll issue us mostly about high tech, the Supreme Court case was about flavored drink mixes.
This may ease the troll issue, which has affected digital signage software companies and their clients, but the broader issue us patent law reform, which is puttering along. This story suggest changes are happening, but they need to happen in Washington, DC, which is more than a little topsy-turvy since Jan. 20.
photo credit: romanboed US Supreme Court via photopin (license)