Thinking about the possible future issues with regard to larger companies entering the “patent pooling” / patent enforcing business model, I believe a future issue might be the concept of “tying,” (a concept I learned about during my time in China) where a company is approached to take a license for patents relating to one or more of their products, and as a condition to accepting a license [in lieu of a threat to be sued for patent infringement], that company is forced to take licenses on patents that are only remotely relevant (or not relevant at all) to the subject matter in which their products cover. In other words, it seems to me that this could lead to an abuse of the patent system where companies would be forced to take licenses to practice patents they have no intention of practicing just to get the license that is forced upon them regarding the patent they are actually being accused of infringing. It obviously goes the other way too, namely, that companies seeking licenses for patents which they wish to practice might be forced to take licenses which they really don’t need just to get the license they are seeking. With companies having so much muscle these days, I see this as becoming a real threat that can cause some damage within the patent law system.
The prospect of another company (or organization) entering the “patent pooling” business is not unexpected. The patent pooling business model in my opinion is quite effective, profitable, and certainly poses more of a threat to infringing companies who would otherwise be hesitant to take a license where they were clearly infringing certain patents.
One topic I foresee as a future issue which I would enjoy reading in one of your future blogs is the idea of “tying” in regard to companies being coerced to take licenses to patents they don’t need and wouldn’t want. I would say that is a possible and realistic outcome of these big companies with litigation and licensing muscle entering the patent world.
Robert Z. Cashman is a patent litigation attorney / patent attorney in Houston, TX. He has started an informative website using the name Cashman IP which will be a resource for those who wish to obtain a patent or for those who would like to find out how to prevent companies from stealing their inventions. Services include help with entering into IP Agreements & Licensing options, IP Enforcement and Litigation, and Strategic Counseling.