Nearly five years ago, NTP successfully asserted five patents against Research in Motion (RIM), winning a judgment of $53.7M and the award of a permanent injunction. The district court stayed enforcement of the injunction, pending an appeal to the Court Of Appeals For The Federal Circuit. The C.A.F.C. upheld many of the district court findings, but remanded the case to reconsider some of the claim construction issues. Before the lower court could revisit these issues, the parties settled the case. RIM paid NTP $612.5M (yes, kiddies, over half a BILLION dollars) and got a fully paid-up license under the patents.
While all of this was occurring, the USPTO was re-examining, albeit ever so slowly, the patents in suit. Well, the Patent Office Board Of Patent Appeals and Interferences has just released its opinions as to three of the patents being re-examined. The BPAI rejected the claims of all three of these patents as being obvious. The re-examinations of the remaining two patents are still pending.
THE LESSON TO BE LEARNED: $612.5M, three patents rejected, two still pending; what more can be said?
This case is, per se, an excellent argument for the USPTO's recent proposal (as part of its patent reform efforts) to institute a robust post-grant opposition system. Though it would likely add to the Office's backlog, presumably it would help reduce the kind of waste exemplified by cases like this one.