Major Tech Giants Concerned About The Coming Change On The Unified Patent Court's Rules of Procedure
- Standards for deciding when to grant injunctions (Rule 211)
- Standards for deciding when to bifurcate infringement and validity (Rules 37, 40, 118)
- Restrictions on a claimant’s ability to “forum shop” among different local divisions within the EU, and
- Costs for opting out and ongoing maintenance of patent portfolios in the new system
‘A rule that does not offer sufficient guidelines on when to grant injunctions will create strong incentives for abusive behaviors and harm the innovation that the patent system is designed to promote.This will be particularly true with injunctions under the UPC because the UPC injunction power will extend beyond a single country to most of Europe, and it could be used with the intended effect of impeding product sales across the region. This substantial bargaining power to force excessive settlements from companies would, in all likelihood, lead to a rise of abusive litigation before the UPC. Indeed, PAEs have already begun to set up shop in several European countries, drawn by the potential for siphoning more revenue from European companies.The potential for these types of abuses is not only theoretical. In the United States, litigation brought by Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs), entities whose business model is based solely on extracting settlements through the assertion of often low-quality patents, reportedly cost U.S. businesses $29 billion in 2011 alone and resulted in half a trillion dollars in lost wealth from 1990 to 2010. PAEs’ infringement claims are often spurious or based on invalid patents, as demonstrated by the fact that they prevail in less than 9% of the cases in which their claims are fully adjudicated on the merits. Despite the weakness of their legal claims, PAEs are often highly profitable due to their success in extracting settlements. The lucrative nature of PAEs has led to a rapid rise in U.S. patent litigation. Indeed, PAE litigation now accounts for the majority of all U.S. patent litigation. The diversion of revenues from R&D and patenting activities to pay for escalating litigation costs and excessive royalties is staggering, with no resulting gain to innovation.To mitigate the potential for abuses of such power, courts should be guided by principles set forth in the rules of procedure to assess proportionality prior to granting injunctions. And PAEs should not be allowed to use injunctions for the sole purpose of extracting excessive royalties from operating companies that fear business disruption’ (emphasis added).