A few months after I became a registered patent agent, a friend recommended I come to a meeting of the Licensing Executives Society. The Silicon Valley chapter has been around for more than a decade and deals with the business of intellectual property. Last week the chapter held an end of year meeting called “IP Year in Review.” I went to Palo Alto to socialize with the Silicon Chapter members and hear from a panel on patent, trademark, and copyright issues in the United States in 2012.
The majority of the event was an intellectual property review presentation conducted by an IP attorney. Perkins Coie LLP lawyer James Pistorino talked about the latest impacts of the America Invents Act on patent practice and described the various court cases in each IP field. For example, Pistorino explained how the USPTO raised the fees for ex parte reexamination from $2,500 to $18,000 this September. As a result the requests for the procedure spikes from less than 50 a week to 200 right before the fee change went into effect. Case filings by district were ranked in historical order with the Eastern District of Texas at the top and the California Northern District following not far behind. Pistorino prefaced specific cases with related images, but after following intellectual property news stories for the last few months I knew that the images of phones and tablets related to Apple v. Samsung, and the high heels related to the Louboutin case without needing to look at the presentation notes. Pistorino ended his part of the program with IP issues on the horizon like the Supreme Court decision on Myriad and the patent office’s switch to a First-to-File system in March.
The next two presentations went into more detail on recent IP challenges. OSKR managing partner Nisha Mody talked to the chapter about damage theory, specifically citing LaserDynamics, Inc. v. Quanta Computer, Inc. Damages have become an issue recently as courts have struggled to justify the theories behind them. For instance, Judge Alsup in Oracle v. Google did not need to rule on damages because Oracle waived the few thousand they were awarded when the judge ruled that they were not entitled to their copyright claim. As Apple argues for the overall damage reward Samsung owes them, Judge Lucy Koh is considering modifying the damage amount because of specific mistakes the jury made when calculating damages in the Apple v. Samsung trial a few months ago. Judge Posner threw out the Apple Motorola case in Illinois because he didn’t think any damage theory either party presented were valid enough for a jury trial. The final presentation done by Soody Tronson was about the impact of litigation on companies and their IP strategies going forth. Tronson and her Law Group work with companies to make sure they can acquire reasonable royalty rates and protect them from much more costly court battles and reexamination procedures.
The IP Year in Review was a great way for executives to learn about this year’s intellectual property issues. As a patent agent, I was exposed to some of the challenges individuals and businesses faced in 2012 and the battles in the years ahead. I will continue to attend the Licensing Executive Society meetings to learn more about IP in Silicon Valley and the executives and attorneys involved in managing it. I highly recommend paying attention to this organization if you are involved in intellectual property in the Bay Area.