Robert Unikel Explains How Recent Supreme Court Rulings May Cut Down on Weak Patent Suits in Law360

As seen in Law360’s “5 High Court Rulings Give Ammo to Patent Troll Opponents”

June 20, 2014

Law360 reports that the US Supreme Court recently ruled in Nautilus Inc. v. Biosig Instruments Inc. that patents are indefinite, and thus invalid, if they don’t clearly “inform … those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention.” The ruling vacates standards from the Federal Circuit that stated a patent is only indefinite if it is “insolubly ambiguous,” which the Supreme Court said was too vague.

According to Kaye Scholer Intellectual Property Partner Robert Unikel, the decision should help restrict the validity of unclear patents that are often at the center of cases filed by non-practicing entities, often referred to as patent trolls. “A lot of the patent trolls' patents tend to be not very fulsome in their disclosure and use terms that are very wishy-washy" so that the patents can be asserted as broadly as possible, he said. Unikel added that patents are more likely to be invalidated as a result of this ruling, because “the standard before was so high that no patent troll was really afraid of their patent being invalidated on those grounds.”

In addition to the Nautilus ruling, other recent Supreme Court decisions such as Limelight Networks Inc. v. Akamai Technologies Inc. and Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank will also make it more difficult for weak patent suits to succeed in court by changing the standards for induced infringement and ruling that abstract ideas implemented using a computer are not eligible for a patent. "Those three rulings put the hurdles squarely on the race track," Unikel said, adding, "Now it's up to the district courts and the Federal Circuit to decide how high those hurdles are going to be and how difficult it will be for trolls to get over them in practice."

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