Something very critical to our rights as inventors is happening right now. This regards the PTAB (Patent Trial and Appeals Board), the reason for our protest at the USPTO in August because of the alarming rate that it is invalidating issued patents.
For any readers not up to speed on this, the PTAB was created by the America Invents Act (AIA) as an easier way to invalidate patents. It is the tool of choice for infringers who want to invalidate the patents they are infringing. About 70% of the patents they try to get into a PTAB proceeding are taken up, and once at the PTAB, over 90% of them have claims invalidated that either eliminate the patents entirely or neuter them.
There are no winnings from a PTAB proceeding, so you can’t hire an attorney on contingency. Even if you happen to have a few hundred thousand dollars available to defend your patent, and even if you overcome the heavy odds against you, infringers can mount additional PTABs against you until your patents or your funds are totally wiped out.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that US Inventor has been fighting, we have moved the needle, and we are in a position to change this terrible situation.
The protest at the USPTO got news coverage and brought attention to the issue. One result was that the acting Director of the USPTO, Joseph Matal, came and spoke at my local group, the Tampa Bay Inventors Council, where he indicated potential changes coming that will help us. I ran into him again at the AIPLA meeting in Washington DC and he further verified that changes are coming.
The fact that the acting Director of the USPTO came to Tampa and told us this is a good sign, but talk is cheap. There are many inventors who have had their patents wiped out and others who are facing PTAB actions right now, like Josh Malone, who has spent millions of dollars fighting serial infringers.
The US Supreme Court is about to hear a case on this very issue – Oil States. They will consider two issues: 1) Are patents property rights, as they have been considered for 200 years (a three judge panel ruled that they are “public” rights!), and 2) If they are property rights, should an administrative court like the PTAB be able to invalidate them, or should it require a judicial court with the normal due process required to invalidate a property right.
US Inventor has filed several Amicus Briefs to inform the Court of our issues, one of which has 31 inventor groups as interested parties. US Inventor has had key members and inventors presenting the PTAB issue to multiple offices in the House and Senate, and we have increasing support for our side.
The critical event right now is the Supreme Court review of Oil States, which starts Monday morning, November 27th. We will be there protesting respectfully (no burning of patents, just carrying signs). There will be news coverage, and we will make a difference.
Up to this point, a few overworked individuals have carried most of the load. We’ve accomplished a lot. We stopped the very fatal Innovation Act. Some very high level allies had been skeptical of the impact of our door-to-door blitz of the US House until they overheard top attorneys from big high techs talking about how that very action was what destroyed the legislation.
Here’s the thing – the usual suspects can’t pull this off alone. I need your help. I need you to come to Washington DC and be a part of this historical effort.
The Supreme Court will start hearing Oil States on the morning of November 27. We need as many inventors as possible there protesting that morning. Your involvement will make a difference.
Come to Washington DC and and be a part of this. Bring your loved ones as well (the children of inventors who took part in the other protest had a great experience and helped the cause). We will have a block of rooms at a very nice hotel Sunday night, the26th, for just $100 each. Go here for more information and to register, go here http://www.usinventor.org/oil-states-protest/
If you have questions, contact me. I need your help. Inventors nationwide need your help. America needs your help. Please let me know you are coming.