In August, real estate agents in Texas fended off a company’s demands for royalty payments for a feature of many websites: the ability to show prospective home buyers where local schools, parks and grocery stores are. Administrative law judges at the United States Patent and Trademark Office found that the patent claims were simply not valid.
A few months before, in February, judges at the patent office put an end to “Project Paperless,” an attempt to extract royalties from small businesses using off-the-shelf scanners to scan documents to email. The litigants pressing for payment, the judges determined, had no right to the technology.
“It probably hasn’t made patent trolls go away, but it’s changed their demands,” noted Mark Lemley, a law professor at Stanford University. “Now they sue and ask for $50,000 rather than sue and ask for $1 million.”Read More