Patent Litigation ! Is it really worth it ?

Have you ever used a ‘slide to unlock’ feature on your I-phone or used 4G network to receive data ? Apple has a patent for ‘slide to unlock’ feature and Samsung has patent for receiving data over 4G network. Both the companies has been fighting PATENT WAR with each other for so long. Similarly in the case of ‘Basmati rice’ a US company Ricetec faced a global outrage after the grant of patent for basmati rice in their name. Below is the excerpt of wikepedia on this case

In September 1997 Texas, USA company RiceTec was granted U.S. Patent No. 5,663,484 on “basmati rice lines and grains.” The patent secures lines of basmati and basmati-like rice and ways of analyzing that rice. RiceTec, owned by Prince Hans-Adam of Liechtenstein, faced international outrage over allegations of biopiracy. It had also caused a brief diplomatic crisis between India and United States with India threatening to take the matter to WTO as a violation of TRIPS which could have resulted in a major embarrassment for the United States.[12] Both voluntarily and due to review decisions by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, RiceTec lost or withdrew most of the claims of the patent, including, most importantly, the right to call their rice lines “basmati.”A more limited varietal patent was granted to RiceTec in 2001 on claims dealing with three strains of the rice developed by the company. 

There has been numerous such cases in past where either the companies are facing patent litigation or have claimed and filed suites on its competition. Seeing and observing the whole litigation filing process and the money spent by companies on such suites one question comes to mind, whether this was required?

Many individuals think that to avoid such types of incident there needs to be changes made in present patent act so that the companies can invest their money as well as its resources in innovation rather than these type of patent litigation cases. Taking alone the case of apple and samsung they have been on each others throats for more than 40 times. During the State of the Union address to Congress in January 2014, President Obama called for passage of a patent reform bill that would allow businesses to stay focused on innovation, not litigation. Today, in what was billed as part of the “Year of Action: Making Progress Through Executive Action,” the Obama Administration highlighted progress made on previously announced executive actions, and also announced three new actions to further respond to the President’s desire to increase patent quality.

I would like to get a response from the readers as to what are the reforms they think, is to made in present patent act which could improve the quality of patent and avoid patent litigation cases.

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PATENT ACT TERMINOLOGY

Before starting to know about the patent act and its various amendments let us first get familiar with few terminology. We will be using these terminology quite often in our discussion. here are few of them with their detail description.

  • “Appellate Board” means the Appellate Board referred to in section 116;
  • “assignee” includes an assignee of the assignee and the legal representative of a deceased assignee and references to the assignee of any person include references to the assignee of the legal representative or assignee of that person;
  • “Budapest Treaty” means the Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Micro-organisms for the purposes of Patent Procedure done at Budapest on 28th day of April, 1977, as amended and modified from time to time;
  • “Capable of industrial application”, in relation to yo an invention means that the invention is capable of being made or used in industry;
  • “Controller” means the controller general of patents, Design and trade marks referred to in section 73;
  • “convention application” means an application for a patent made by virtue od section 135;
  • “convention country” means a country or a country which is member of a group of countries or a union of countries or an inter-governmental organisation referred to as a convention country in section 133;
  •  “district court” has a meaning assigned to that expression by the code of civil procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908);
  • “exclusive licence” means a licence from a patentee which confers on licensee, on the licensee and persons authorised by him, to the exclusion of all other persons (including the patentee), any right in respect of the patented invention and exclusive licensee shall be constructed accordingly.