Stanford Creates Database Of Patent Litigation

from the looks-useful dept

Over at Stanford, some law professors have been putting together a database of IP litigation from the past few years, called the Stanford IP Litigation Clearinghouse. The article claims that there are “surprising” facts already coming out of the database, but they don’t seem to be any different than what’s been known for a while (specifically, that the number of patent lawsuits has been relatively constant over the past few years). Of course, part of the reason is that more infringement lawsuits have been filed against many defendants at once, rather than against just one or two. In fact, the database does show a big jump in the number of defendants.

Also, it’s worth noting that the database leaves out all of the folks who paid up a settlement because it’s simply not worth going to court or (even worse) those who never even bothered to create a product due to chilling effects from those claiming IP ownership. Still, it’s good to have more data and to have that data more widely available for analysis.

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Comments on “Stanford Creates Database Of Patent Litigation”

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Anonymous Coward says:

“Also, it’s worth noting that the database leaves out all of the folks who paid up a settlement because it’s simply not worth going to court or (even worse) those who never even bothered to create a product due to chilling effects from those claiming IP ownership.”

As hard as it may be for some to believe, many cases of infringement never get to the lawsuit stage because the defendant agrees that an infringement has occured and that an accomodation needs to be worked out with the patent holder.

As for the latter group mentioned in the quote, it does seem a bit difficult to gather objective data about people who chose not to develop something because of your so-called “chilling effects”. I have as yet to see a patent that cannot be designed around to avoid infringement. I am sure that sometimes designing around may not be possible, as in the case of a truly breakthrough invention, but these are few and far between.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

A “chilling effect” is a very real sociological reaction prevalent in numerous settings. All it requires is one party that can show sufficient force to a second party. All third and fourth parties then choose not to act because the first party is “too strong” and are defeated before any challenge is made.

This is why several texts throughout history (ex: The Art of War) try to teach the military’s of their nations to overwhelm and destroy the enemy utterly as quickly as possible. You’ll have to do less fighting overall as a number of the enemy will refuse to fight and desert or surrender.

Evidence of “chilling effects” are also present in less lethal forms of human interaction, litigation being a common one.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I take it you are not a lawyer who regularly interfaces with the technical community to discuss patent scope and how to avoid problems. Of course, the Doctrine of Equivalents has always been a thorny problem, but the CAFC that is constantly derided on this site has over the years place limitations of how and when it may be used by a patentee.

Yes, I do read with regularity many issued patents. It would be foolish for me to not agree than some are very broad in their claim language. Even so, the CAFC is well aware of this happening and has likewise promulgated direction and legal rules to limit claim scope to that which is disclosed in the specification of the patent and obvious variants. Claims are not interpreted solely on the basis of what they say. Much more enters into the calculus of claim scope.

Mark Nowotarski (profile) says:

True value of patents

This looks like an interesting and useful endeavor.

The thing to realize about litigation, however, is that it is the result of a failure in overall technology licensing. This is a tiny fraction of the much larger value created by successful technology licensing programs. The entire chemical industry, for example, is based on successful technology licenses from technology producers to technology users. These people by and large understand and respect patents.

Lonnie E. Holder says:

Re: True value of patents

Rarely do they sue each other over patents. The chemical industry is extremely cost driven and yet there are numerous patents. Would chemicals be cheaper without patents? I have yet to see a study, but I suspect chemicals are cheaper because of patents, as patents are gained on processes that reduce the costs of providing chemicals.

Of course, there are those who say that without the patents, industry could adopt these processes, but then everyone would use the same processes without seeking alternatives (promoting progress) to reducing costs. In the end, more options are developed and in the long run costs are driven down more than they would have been if everyone had “innovated” the original process rather than exploring a plurality of options.

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