The US Court of Appeals has slammed the most litigious patent lawsuit filing company in the country for filing multiple lawsuits over a patent that was deemed too abstract. This ruling against Acacia Research Corporation brings to end a major patent lawsuit in the Court of Appeals.
Digital Imaging Patent
US patent no. 6,128,415 was initially filed by renowned company Polaroid way back in 1996. Since then, this patent has changed hands many times. In 2012, the patent was purchased by Digitech Image Technologies. The patent pertains to a type of device profiled that enables the display of digital images in accurate form over a number of different devices.
Digitech Image Technologies happens to be a branch of Acacia Research Corporation. Patent lawyers are well-versed with this company, seeing that it is the largest patent assertion company that is being publicly traded. Acacia Research Corporation has the dubious honor of being the most litigious patent trolls in the country as per a study generated by RPX with statistics of filings in 2013. Through the course of last year, the company’s patent lawyers have filed over 239 patent lawsuits!
Once the patent in question was purchased by Digitech, the patent lawyers hired by the company kept themselves busy by filing patent lawsuits against over 31 companies like Overstock.com, Xerox, Fujifilm, Leica Camera, Newegg and Ricoh, to name a few. Digitech alleged that the patent they owned had been infringed upon by each of these companies. When the patent lawyers took this matter to court in 2013, the federal district court called them out for filing lawsuits about a patent that was abstract and therefore, invalid. Digitech/Acacia’s patent lawyers then appealed this federal district court verdict and took the matter higher up to the US Court of Appeals.
Acacia is a Greedy, Malicious, and Immoral Entity
The three judge panel at the US Court of Appeals concurred with the decision of the federal district court. The court applied the new Supreme Court guidance that pertains to patenting ideas that are considered to be too abstract. The initial defense win has been held up by the US Court of Appeals. As a result, the 31 digital imaging companies that were defendants in the case will not be paying a single dime to Acacia and their patent lawyers.
The three judge panel found that the lawsuit filed by the patent lawyers was too abstract because the device profile that is described in the patent does not cover a machine or any other manufactured object. Covering intangible and spatial information, the patent is too abstract to allow it to be enforced. The 31 companies have reacted quite favorably to this decision. However, the decision will also have ramifications on future cases and a long list of software-based patent lawsuits could fall flat after this ruling and the erstwhile Alice v. CLS Bank ruling.
Patent lawyers and general counsel for Electronics for Imaging, one of the companies sued by Digitech, have gone on record calling the lawsuit meritless. They also said that they would not be bullied into settling lawsuits filed by patent trolls and their patent lawyers, and that they would approach as many courts as needed to protect their interests.
Chief Legal Officer for Newegg also echoed the thoughts of these patent lawyers, when he said that Acacia investors ought to look forward to more of their patents being proved invalid. He went on to praise the patent lawyers working for his company who have ensured that over the last 9 years, Newegg has maintained a perfect track record in patent lawsuit appeals.
Meanwhile, Acacia/Digitech patent lawyers will have to gather up and count their losses after such a major case has fallen through for them. Money and resources that have been invested in this patent lawsuit have come to naught, thanks to the ruling by the US Court of Appeals.