NTP Continues to Trouble Patent Office

PatentlyOImage009Rumors continue to fly regarding reexamination of NTP’s patents and alleged misdeeds at the PTO.  Calling it “BlackBerryGate,” professor Hal Wegner notes that the allegations reach both PTO administration and into the Department of Commerce.

Although third-party communications in an ex parte reexamination is strictly forbidden, NTP has accused PTO officials of holding covert meetings with RIM officials, including RIM’s CEO and Canadian counsel.  According to the PTO, those meetings had nothing to do with the five ongoing NTP reexaminations.  However, it is clear that RIM was hoping to exert political pressure on the PTO, that the NTP reexamination were undertaken with record speed, and that rejections of NTPs patents were issued just before a critical hearing in the litigation between those two companies.

Of course, NTP has an incentive to fight the messenger — it only has weak direct arguments against the asserted prior arts.  NTP’s position is also weakened by its odd argument that the cited prior art is not good evidence based on a forensic analysis that asserts document tampering.

Crouch’s Comments — NTP’s filings do not present any hard evidence of PTO wrongdoing.  However, we all hope that the Office will come through with clear evidence that there were no improper contacts or pressure.



7 thoughts on “NTP Continues to Trouble Patent Office

  1. 7

    Wasn’t there a quote from a PTO official (a few months ago) stating that the NTP patents would probably be invalidated in August.

  2. 6

    Why have we not heard from the national associations – AIPLA and ABA / PTC section – about this? Certainly the profession’s (and thus their) interests go beyond the present administration of the PTO to the integrity of the patent system.

  3. 5

    I’m kind of baffled by the comment that NTP “only has weak direct arguments against the asserted prior arts.”

    Is it really the case that there’s significant prior art that was discovered since the trial itself? Or are the criteria different in re-examination as opposed to a trial?

    What am I missing here?

  4. 4

    NTP is hoping to further milk these patents for additional licensing deals.

    That won’t happen the PTO deems those patent claims to be unallowable.

  5. 3

    Once an ex parte reexamination starts, the requester can’t withdraw it if it settles its differences with the patentee.

    Once the rexam is granted the ball is then in the USPTO’s court and the requestor has no further involvement.

    Also, NTP has licensed these patents to companies other than RIM in the past and is looking to continue to license them in the future.

  6. 2

    1) Once reexamination starts, it keeps going until completed.

    2) NTP hopes to assert the patents against others. And, there is the potential that some license deals will fall through if the PTO ultimately invalidates the patents.

  7. 1

    why is the pto still re-examining these cases? didn’t the settlement make the whole exercise academic? can someone explain this to me?

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