Patent Law

New Procedure Resolves Patent Cases

Companies accused of infringing patents are increasingly turning to a process known as inter partes re-examination, a less costly method of resolving patent disputes that appears to favor defendants.

Most alleged infringers win, according to statistics, but the process is not without risk, the Recorder reports. If an accused infringer seeks a re-examination and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office upholds the patent, the accused company cannot challenge the patent in court or any other forum.

Patent claims were invalidated in 88 percent of the completed inter partes re-examinations, according to the PTO. The process is increasing in popularity. In the first half of this year, there were 90 requests for re-examinations, compared to 70 requests for all of last year.

The re-examinations are being used as a tactical tool in litigation as defendants ask judges to stay litigation until the PTO issues a decision, the legal publication reports. That happened in a Delaware patent infringement suit against Intel over chips used in Pentium products. The plaintiff, Transmeta Corp., claims Intel’s action is a stalling tactic.

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