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Old 02-24-2006, 07:21 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by BSheehy
there appears to have been another episode of rejection today.
??? I just don't understand how a company, RIM in this case, can have a patent infringement jury ruling against them upheld when the patents that the action is based on have been deemed invalid.
Because the patents haven't yet been deemed invalid. In fact, the patents have been affirmatively found to be VALID. Validity is a matter decided by the courts--the patent office merely issues (in theory) claims drawn to patentable subject matter (that is, things that are novel and non-obvious). Thus:

1) NTP owns at least one valid patent claim.
2) RIM infringes that at least one valid patent claim.
3) Therefore, RIM owes NTP money for past damages.
4) Because the claim is still valid and enforceable, RIM can be enjoined from any future infringing conduct.
5) If and when the nature of NTP's property changes, the injunction might change...but nothing in the past will change.

To try an analogy from real property:

Suppose you think you own a 10 foot by 10 foot square of land (claim), and I come along and build a very tiny house on that land for a very tiny person to live in. You go to court for my trespass (infringement). The court decides you do, in fact, own the 10 by 10 square (validity). You'd want rent, right? And you'd probably want that very tiny house gone (injunction), unless you could extract sufficient rent by letting the very tiny person stay there (settlement).

Now suppose that there is an County Realty Administration Panel (yep...the CRAP), which is responsible for deciding who owns what land (Patent Office). Suppose I go there to dispute your ownership (reexam) of the land based on a document by a previous owner that dedicates the part of the land that I built on as a county park (prior art). The CRAP decides that they screwed up in letting you assert ownership of the land, and they issue a new decree that you own less of the land than they originally thought you did (the reexam certificate).

Now I ask you:
1) Up until recently, the CRAP said that you owned the land the tiny person is living on. They've only just now taken it away from you. Do you still want rent for everything happening before? Of course you do. (damages for past infringement)

2) Can you now kick the tiny person off? Nope. If he was previously kicked off, can he come back? Yep. So can anybody else. The public domain just got bigger.