Patent Awards Tripled Last Year; Patent Attorneys Thrilled
from the and-you-wonder-why... dept
Wonder why we're seeing so many stories about bogus patent lawsuits these days? Usually they're either by companies who have done nothing to actually advance the market or who were unable to actually find a reasonable market for their products. Almost always, the patents have been overly broad, covering ideas that were quite obvious steps forward in the marketplace. But, patent infringement lawsuits are a growth business. In 2006, juries awarded approximately $1 billion in patent damages, which nearly tripled the amount from 2005. Note that this doesn't even include the $612 million NTP scored from RIM, since that was a settlement, rather than a case finally decided by the courts. While settlement information often isn't public, it likely pushes that $1 billion much, much higher, as many firms now recognize that it's cheaper to settle (even against ridiculous claims) than to fight. Not surprisingly, many of the biggest jury awards come from every patent attorney's favorite district court in Marshall, Texas. Unfortunately, the Bloomberg article looking at this trend decides to only quote patent attorneys who think this trend is a good thing. They claim that it shows how the system works, rather than how it shows that billions (if you add in settlements and legal fees) were wasted on legal disputes rather than actual innovation.