Thousands of patent lawsuits are filed each year, and most of them deal with computer technology and software. Nearly 90 percent of those high-tech patent lawsuits are filed by shell companies that offer the public no products or services whatsoever. These patent-assertion entities, also known as “patent trolls,” simply enrich their owners by extracting money from operating companies.
In recent years, the Supreme Court has limited patent venue abuses, made fee-shifting easier, and most importantly, made it easier to throw out bad software patents in its Alice v. CLS Bank decision.
Patent troll lawsuits hurt real small businesses owned by regular people, most of whom don’t have the millions of dollars that would be required to defend themselves through a patent trial. We created our “Saved by Alice” project to tell their stories—the stories of company founders and entrepreneurs, who were able to keep on innovating because of the Alice decision.
We also sat down with some of those business owners to talk to them about their stories on camera. Today, we’re releasing a short video interview with Justus Decher, who told us about how he worked for years to build up his company—only to be threatened by a patent troll called MyHealth.
Armed with U.S. Patent No. 6,612,985, which is nothing more than a bare-bones description of the concept of remote patient monitoring, MyHealth and its lawyers went around to working tele-health companies demanding cash. To Decher, faced with a $25,000 demand, it felt like extortion.
It’s more important than ever that we hear from the people who have been hurt by rampant patent troll lawsuits. This year, patent trolls and other companies profiting from a lopsided patent system, are working hard to roll back the hard-won reforms that have made the patent system better. In the end, Decher’s company was saved, when a court analyzed the MyHealth patent under the rules of Alice—and promptly threw it out.
Now, patent trolls and their allies are pushing an upside-down narrative saying reforms have gone too far. Bona fide trolls are on the same side of this debate as patent holders like IBM, which claims that “the troll scare is largely just noise now.” Unfortunately, they have a powerful ally in the new Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Andre Iancu, who has gone so far as to say that patent trolls are just “monster stories,” and that “we have over-corrected and risk throwing out the baby with the bathwater.”
That’s the excuse they’re using to try to roll back Alice, and bring the U.S. patent system back to the bad old days. Right now, the Patent Office is seeking to impose new rules on patent examiners that will encourage them to ignore the Alice decision and give out more abstract software patents. We’re asking EFF supporters to file comments asking the Patent Office to reject that new guidance.
Tell the patent office to stop issuing abstract software patents
The purpose of Saved by Alice is to give voice to real inventors, who are sick and tired of being threatened by trolls who have contributed nothing to their industry. These aren’t “monster stories” or a “narrative” that pro-patent lobbyists can shift around—they’re real people. We hope you take a few minutes to listen to Justus Decher’s story.