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Unlike copyrights and trademarks, you have no obligation to defend your patents. So the system
does indeed appear to encourage such trolls unfortunately. IANAL but just what I heard and
speaking for myself here.
ten years' infringement with no suit?
Posted Oct 17, 2007 14:06 UTC (Wed) by sepreece (subscriber, #19270)
Another way to look at this is, it allows patent holders to not worry about suing everybody
who infringes, but only those who succeed sufficiently to be worth suing. That's no advantage
to those who get sued, but a big advantage to those who don't (as compared to trademark, where
thousands of cease-and-desist letters every year go out to mom-and-pop sotes and websites that
choose their names poorly).
Posted Oct 18, 2007 10:48 UTC (Thu) by lysse (guest, #3190)
However, if you knew someone was infringing your patent for ten years, but only told them
about it six months ago, you can only recover damages for the past six months, according to
the article referred to below. Damages can only be recovered after proper notification of a
patent, and then only for the larger of reasonable royalties and lost profits. Since IP
Innovations had no products to write patent numbers on, and consequently no profits to lose,
it appears they'll only be able to claim royalties since the date they first notified the
companies they're suing of infringement. That explains why the date of first notification is a
subject of some dispute in these cases...
Rather nastier is the injunctive relief - they can force Red Hat and Novell to stop
distributing their products until the infringement goes away. They won't want to do that, of
course - but their bet is that their victims won't voluntarily withdraw products to sort out
the infringement, and will settle for rather less reasonable future royalties (ideally a
patent license would cost a dollar less than the total cost of withdrawing, redeveloping, and
(I wonder whether patents would be any more palatable if intellectual property were personal
and non-transferable? That is, if the only people who could ever sue for patent violation were
the individual inventors named on the patent, and corporations could only ever obtain licences
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