September 20, 2016
PricewaterhouseCoopers has released their study of the past year in patent litigation. Similar to our findings in our NPE study, they show that patent litigation is on a decline in comparison to last year. They also note a small decline in patent filings, in addition to a notable move in fee-shifting where it would appear there is a large increase in attorney’s fees being awarded, both in terms of the number of decisions (144, up from 69) and the rate at which they are granted (41%, up from 26%). You may think this sounds like the US is, therefore, becoming a better place to defend against NPEs, but the damages report shows that median damages to NPEs are still some $8M higher than damages to practicing entities. This goes to show that while measures are being made to help stem the rise of NPEs, and while this is having an effect on case filings, operating companies aren’t out of the woods yet.
As a way of celebrating Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, IPWatchdog has compiled a listof current day tech innovations which were first seen in the Sci-Fi show. From mobile computing devices to natural language voice command operated computers, the show’s futuristic vision of mankind’s technology looks a lot less removed from present day than it did on first release, largely due to the rise of mobile computing technologies. This type of tech can be a form of engineering inspiration, but it can lead to IP difficulties, as Apple found when Samsung pointed out that Apple’s iPad was merely a take on the computing devices seen in 2001: A Space Odyssey. While the judge didn’t allow Samsung to use that particular piece of evidence, it does teach a valuable lesson in prior art searching and illustrates that inspirational tech can occur anywhere.
As self-driving cars come ever closer, with barely a week going by without another major auto manufacturer announcing partnerships to help move their tech ahead of the opposition, Walmart has taken the self-driving concept in a tangential direction with their recent patent application for a self-driving shopping cart. Using a set of sensors, a motor, and a user interface, the shopping giant is clearly trying to help make finding a cart and using a supermarket more easy for customers, with the patent application describing a system for summoning an idle shopping cart, which can free up employees and de-clutter the store as customers abandon carts. This also opens the possibility of the cart knowing the store layout, therefore making finding items much easier for users, and shows that a major field of innovation can cause unexpected additional technological development elsewhere.