Supreme Court ruling makes life harder for patent trolls, easier for Apple

Exterior view of the Supreme Court, Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday ruled that a 2011 law designed to make it easier to defeat new patent trolls were legal. The law had been challenged by a company attempting to patent something which had long been done by other companies.

The case before the Supreme Court focused on a patent held by Cuozzo Speed Technologies LLC that claims an invention for alerting drivers when they are speeding. GPS technology company Garmin brought a challenge at the Patent Office, which invalidated the Cuozzo patent after concluding its claims weren’t innovative when viewed against other prior technologies.

The ruling will be of particular benefit to Apple …

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The company revealed two years ago that it was the number one target for patent trolls, the company stating that while it rarely lost on the merits, it had often chosen to settle cases simply because doing so was cheaper than the legal costs of defending them.

The WSJ reports that Apple has on more than one occasion used the procedures created by the 2011 law to challenge dubious patent applications.

The 2011 law created quicker and cheaper procedures for contesting patents in front of the Patent Office instead of in front of a federal judge […]

It is a boost for technology companies like Google and Apple that have taken advantage of new procedures at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to challenge the validity of patents they believed made weak claims to new innovations.

The court heard that the accelerated process had so far resulted in more than 80% of those patents challenged being declared invalid.

Apple was recently hit with the dumbest patent troll claim yet: that the iPhone infringed patents by making phone calls and sending emails.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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