IP Recap #35

August 24, 2017


Crocs Battling for Priority for Their Design

File before you sell to avoid getting snapped

Crocs IP fight


The Story

Love them or hate them, Crocs have a very distinctive and innovative design, which anyone could identify in an instant. Crocs have been keen to keep imitators at bay, and as such have been using their IP to try and squash anything similar. One company that has been on the receiving end of Crocs’ IP has been USA Dawgs, who have fought back with a re-examination of their patents. Whether they are deemed to have prior art issues surrounds the use of previous applications for priority, as crocs filed the application for the design patent in 2004, yet had earlier applications used for a priority date of 2003. This date is key here, as they are at risk of prior art issues from their own early sales.

Why it matters

This goes to show how important it is to get your IP in place before sales can happen. Crocs sold their own products before filing for a patent. Crocs could have avoided these validity issues for their own IP if they’d either gotten the original application right or had protected themselves prior to their own early sales.

Motorola’s New Screen Could be Hot Stuff

A self-fixing solution to an annoying problem

Motorola patents a self fixing screenThe Story

We all know many people who have a broken phone with them, with large cracks across the screen, yet it still works and they don’t want to pay for a new one or a repair, so they persevere with their damaged model. It’s a natural consequence of having a large bit of glass that you carry around and use on the move. However, Motorola may be on the brink of launching a very clever fix aimed at these people. They recently had a patent published which describes a phone which can heat up its screen, resulting in what they describe as a process to “reverse at least some of the deformation”.

Why it matters

This could be a smart move in differentiating their phones from others as the other major players compete on cameras, screen resolution and battery life. Self-repairing phones could be useful as the technology stagnates and people stop swapping phones very quickly, and this could be a smart play to secure this technology.

3 Big Tech Players Create Startup Patent Investment Scheme

Defensive support for startups

New patent pool for startups

The Story

Startups that have patents are known to fare better when it comes to company valuation than those without. There are many rationales behind this, such as the fact that the patent itself retains some value even if the startup never gains much market traction, that the filing of a patent shows that they are aware of their needs as a business and that their business has some IP protection are but a few reasons they are seen as more valuable. However, a new means of protecting startup businesses with the help of patents has been introduced with the announcement of a new platform launched by 6 businesses, including AT&T, Entegris, Lenovo, and Rambus. They have launched a pool of some 60k patents which can be invested into startups as a part of VC fundraising. These patents are unused assets from the pool members, meaning they will likely be older patents, and thus could be good defensive IP for a startup.

Why it matters

This new initiative provides benefits to the startups, as companies can be subject to infringement suits once they are big enough to start being of interest to the established players in the market. It also opens up new angles for the secondary patent market, which can provide companies with a better chance of relieving themselves of the financial burden of renewing unused patents. This market has been reduced as companies find the idea of selling to NPEs unattractive, plus the NPEs themselves have been suffering somewhat of late.

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