from the ray-niro's-gotta-wait dept
The infamous and questionable JPEG patent held by Global Patent Holdings (GPH) and used to threaten just about anyone online (including the Green Bay Packers, CDW, a resort in Florida and others) who happened to have a JPEG on their website has been put on hold for a while. While the folks behind it somehow got Forbes to write a puff piece making it sound like the patent holder was the victim, if you look at the details, it was clear that this was an abuse of the patent system. It was a questionable patent from the beginning, and an earlier review of the patent had every claim thrown out. However, during that process, the patent holder tried adding a ton of other claims — one of which the USPTO actually allowed to go through. It’s that single remaining claim that’s being used to sue lots of folks. However, with the USPTO recently agreeing to re-examine that one claim, those being sued have asked the court to put all of the cases on hold until the re-exam is done. As we’ve pointed out, all too often, judges refuse to wait for the Patent Office to re-examine a patent — which is a big problem, since so many re-exams result in rejected claims.
However, that’s not the case here. Last week, the judge ruled that it made sense to stay the case until the re-exam was complete. GPH protested this move, noting that the patent had already been re-examined before, and that process took many years during which GPH couldn’t enforce the patent. However, the court reasonably responded on a few different points. First, it noted that while the length of the re-exam last time was quite long, with only one claim it shouldn’t take as long this time. Second, it pointed out that while it’s true the patent was re-examined once before, since this claim is a new claim, it was not re-examined — only examined. Finally, and most importantly, the court noted that if the courts had not waited, a bad decision likely would have resulted, as they would have had to assume the later rejected claims were valid.
“a significant amount of time and effort in claim construction and other litigation would have been wasted if we had forged ahead without the benefit of the PTO?s examination (and subsequent rejection) of those claims.”
This should, effectively, keep GPH from filing any more suits on this patent until the USPTO has a chance to review the remaining claim. While other lawsuits can be filed, a quick pointer to this ruling should hopefully keep those cases from going anywhere until the USPTO has reviewed the patent. Oh, and by the way, the judge appears to not have been even remotely swayed by the totally unrelated fact that the original inventors of the patent were old and feeble, which GPH had used in trying to get a sympathy vote. It was so inconsequential the judge doesn’t even mention it in the ruling.