Today at 6pm at the CSUF Startup Incubator in Placentia we welcome patent attorney John Connors to speak about patents and how they are a vitally important aspect of every startup, whether they know it or not. To get a ticket and please go to our event page.
Guiding Entrepreneurs, Inventors, and Developers through the Intellectual Property Minefield to Protect & Profit from Their Idea
The easiest thing to steal is an idea! But, there are legal ways to protect your intellectual property so that you become the next creator of the Miracle Mop, Snapchat, or Casper Mattress. Patent Attorney John J. Connors shares with audiences the often overlooked legal processes to get them protected, patented, and profiting from their idea!
Audiences appreciate John’s candor and first-hand experience when it comes to inventions. They walk away knowing how to:
Invoke trade secret classifications early on to make sure your ideas aren’t stolen!
Raise venture capital money without losing the rights to your app, invention, or product
Differentiate between copyright, trademark, and patents laws so that you pursue legal protection correctly
Recognize how patent, trademark, and copyright laws work together to strengthen your idea again copycats
Obtain foreign intellectual property rights so that you’re covered outside of the United States
Understand the nuances of the massive change in patent law that puts your invention in jeopardy of challenge
As strange as it sounds, “patent trolls” are not just a 21st century problem. It turns out this type of predator was also present in the late 1800s. Back then the trolls were called “patent sharks” and they were just as crafty as present day patent trolls.
Circa 1860 the US Patent Office made a decision to loosen up patent standards for designs of farm implements: plows, grain cradles, pitchforks, etc. This policy decision was met with a flurry of inferior and non-specific patents which then opened the door for the patent sharks.
The patent sharks would travel to isolated farm communities and threaten the farmers who were using the farm tools with the oblique patents. A quick cash settlement would normally avoid court. Sound familiar? The farmers protested to the Feds but little happened for about a decade. Later the US Patent Office returned to the higher patent standards that existed prior to the Civil War.
Lessons for the 21st Century? A good patent is a specific patent. The Federal Government ain’t so smart. The small business man (the farmer of today) is the best prey for the troll. Bad guys follow the money.
Want to learn more about how to protect your small business or start up from the Patent Trolls? Come join CSUF Entrepreneurship at our seminar called:
Apple is the number one patent troll victim with 171 patent troll lawsuits from 2009 to 2013.
The number of patent suits filed by Patent Assertion Entities (Patent Trolls) has tripled in the last two years.
Small and medium businesses represented 90% of the defendants sued.
Patent litigation is very expensive; the average suit in which $1 million to $25 million is at stake costs $1.6 million through discovery and $2.8 million through trial.
In 2013, three cases, tried before juries in separate districts, resulted in awards of $1 billion or greater.SOURCE
Patent trolls have targeted the software industry with 41 percent of the patent litigation involving software patents.SOURCE
Patent Trolls typically sue multiple defendants since this reduces their legal costs per defendant and makes for a large potential payoff. SOURCE
Since 97 percent of infringement suits are settled before trial that suggests that, given the trolls’ advantages, target companies would rather pay off trolls than fight them in court. SOURCE
The Patent Office receives 520,000 applications in a year — that’s about 1,425 every day — and its 6,500 inspectors are hard-pressed to investigate each application thoroughly. They sometimes end up issuing patents that should not have been awarded. The sheer number and poor quality of patents make it harder for technology companies to be sure they aren’t infringing on an existing or pending patent. SOURCE
In 2011, United States business entities incurred $29 billion in direct costs because of patent trolls.SOURCE
A patent troll can be a person or an entity who attempts to enforce or protect patent rights. Typically, the patent troll is on the hunt for patent infringers with the hope of stopping the infringement while collecting money. This pursuit may include a lawsuit or the threat of a lawsuit.
Patent trolls are often companies which own a portfolio of patents. Unique to the troll firm is a strategy to exploit existing users of the patents (i.e. infringers); this path is chosen instead of using the patents for traditional business use such as manufacturing. The business model for the patent trolls is to make money by threatening or filing lawsuits
According to RPX Corporation, a firm that helps reduce company patent-litigation risk, patent trolls in 2012 filed more than 2,900 infringement lawsuits nationwide which nearly six times higher than the number in 2006. (Source: Wikipedia)
Some infringement threats can be described as being done in “bad faith” and may include a lack of specificity about the alleged infringement, extraordinary settlement demands and/or damage claims, and excessive licensing fees. Often these threats include impossibly short deadlines for payment.
The target or possible infringer can include companies that are large or small, with the small firms most unprepared to deal with the threats. Smaller firms and startups are targeted because these firms are often undercapitalized and cannot afford the legal fees necessary to fight the troll. In practice, the smaller firms and startups choose to settle rather than fight.
The US Senate has been monitoring this situation and various pieces of legislation are under review to deal with the trolls. In the meantime, the patent troll thrives.
If you think that patent trolling is an issue that affects only large corporations, think again. Small businesses like yours are often targeted by patent trolls, with threats of lawsuits and litigation.
Learn more about this threat at:
Patent Trolls and Other IP-Related Threats:
How to Protect Your Business from a New Kind of Predator
Presented by: The CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship and CSUF Center for Family Business
Date: Wed., January, 22, 2014 Time: 6:00 p.m. (reception begins at 5:30 p.m.) Location: Mihaylo College of Business and Economics
The O’Brien Center, Third Floor
800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton
At this seminar, panelists Roger N. Behle (IP litigator at Foley, Bezek, Behle & Curtis, LLP), Jerry Conrey (Principal at Conrey Insurance Brokers) and Dr. Robert Kovacev (Professor of Finance at CSUF) will discuss:
The role of a patent troll and how to identify one
Other intellectual property threats
Current and pending legislation designed to address patent trolling
Legal steps business owners should take when encountering a troll
Candidates for insurance protection
Arm yourself with the knowledge to avoid becoming a victim and combat this growing problem. Register now and reserve your space today. Questions can be directed to Adrienne Bailey at email@example.com.
On January 22, 2014, the Center for Entrepreneurship will host a panel that will address the pernicious affects that patent trolls can have on small business. The panel will be made up of a range of people who will be able to give attendees a clear view of what patent trolls and other IP trolls can do to your small business and how to combat them. Our Patent Troll event will take place in the O’Brien Center located on the third floor of the Mihaylo Building during the evening and it will be an excellent opportunity to learn something new and network with other businesspeople.
We sincerely hope that you will be able to attend this event but, until then, check out this great video detailing how Drew Curtis, the founder of the revolutionary website fark.com, beat a patent troll.
Check back for more information on Patent Trolls and how to RSVP for this event.
[Note: Drew Curtis does not have any connection to our event.]