We have discussed at great lengths the problems of the US setting up a specialized appeals court that handles patent cases, known as CAFC or the court of appeals for the federal circuit. That court has tended to lean increasingly "pro-patent" over the years, presiding over the greatest judicial-driven expansion of the patent system and what it covers. For a few years, the Supreme Court had started smacking down the massive overreach of CAFC, but in the past two years, it's started to back down and let CAFC do its thing again.
If there was a "poster child" for the ridiculous excesses of the patent system, it was NTP, the results of a company that completely flopped in the marketplace (because it couldn't execute) that then successfully used the patent system to pressure RIM -- a company who successfully executed where NTP failed -- to hand over an astounding $612.5 million
, even as the USPTO had made it clear that it found NTP's patents unlikely to be valid
Despite NTP and its small group of investors making out like bandits on the RIM case, they continued
a lot more companies. Unlike in the RIM case, where the judge put tremendous pressure on RIM to settle, even as the USPTO had made it clear that it was likely to reject NTP's patents, in these other cases, the judges wisely decided to wait
for the USPTO, who did, in fact, invalidate many NTP patent claims.
And, of course, NTP appealed the USPTO's reasoning... and along comes CAFC to say that the USPTO got it wrong
, and it needs to reconsider its invalidation of claims in seven of NTP's patents, meaning that NTP has, yet again, been given new life. And, of course, thanks to the somewhat idiotic and dangerous "presumption of validity," this means that the courts need to treat those patents as valid while the USPTO reviews them yet again