We consider it a success anytime a Patent Assertion Entity (PAE) complains about Unified’s business model. This sometimes happens after Unified successfully challenges a questionable patent before the PTAB. Indeed, last week Dean Becker, Chairman of Equitable IP Holdings (Equitable), an entity reportedly started by Erik Stamwell and John T. Meli Jr. (See RPX Corp Q2 PAE Report at 46), sent a mass e-mail (copied below) asking for information concerning Unified’s membership and made allusions to some hidden agenda. Equitable sent these e-mails only weeks after it shut down its Digital Audio Encoding (DAE) campaign and requested adverse judgment in our IPR. (See Equitable abandons patent after Unified files IPR).
It is especially ironic when PAEs, many of whom purposefully obfuscate their business and financial activities, attack others’ transparency. Unified’s business model has been clear from day one: we seek to deter PAEs and other non-practicing entities from monetizing invalid patents. Another core Unified principle is that we never pay PAEs. We independently challenge patents and either win on the merits or settle for zero-dollar licenses, period. Many of our members have chosen to make their membership public, but some choose to remain confidential. Confidential, however, does not mean nefarious. For example, we have consistently provided membership information for real-party-in-interest and settlement purposes. (See also Unified's Real Party-in-Interest PTAB Panel Decisions).
Many patent assertions, even some brought by PAEs, involve strong, valid patents. Unfortunately, many do not. Statistics drawn from years of litigation (see, e.g. John R. Allison & Mark A. Lemley, Empirical Evidence on the Validity of Litigated Patents) and Patent Office proceedings (see, e.g., USPTO, Inter Partes Reexamination Historical Statistics and USPTO, Statistics) show this to be true, as do numerous anecdotal examples, including Equitable’s own DAE patent.
Equitable’s e-mail justifies its monetization with a shopworn platitude: “The rights of inventors and patent owners are a critical element in our economy.” We agree and we believe in the patent system. But granted patents are not necessarily valid ones (To wit, roughly 20 years of PTO data shows that around 80% of challenged patents require amendment or cancellation) (see, e.g., USPTO Historical Statistics). The assertion of invalid patents harms, rather than helps, inventors, patent owners, and innovation, and is a wasteful drain on the economy and businesses.
Unified seeks to address this very problem using the legal framework set by Congress and protected by legal doctrines. It is a longstanding right that anyone can challenge granted patents (see 35 U.S.C. § 302 and § 311) and Unified’s use of these procedures promotes Congress’ goals of establishing a more efficient patent system by limiting unnecessary, counterproductive costs (see Changes to Implement Inter Partes Review Proceedings, Post-Grant Review Proceedings at 48,680). Though some PAEs do not like our model, under the AIA and the Noerr–Pennington doctrine, petitioning the government to review patents is a protected right regardless of purpose or motive (see, e.g., Noerr–Pennington doctrine, Wikipedia).
PAEs who assert invalid patents will never be happy with our success or our business model. Unified, however, will continue to aggressively defend our technology zones against assertions based on poor-quality patents, and will do so using all available tools provided by Congress.
Happy new year,
EMAIL FROM EQUITABLE IP
From: Dean Becker (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Finding the Truth #1
I NEED YOUR HELP!
I am trying to learn more about the activities of Unified Patents and other
business groups that oppose patent rights via the use and threat of IPR's.
The rights of inventors and patent owners are a critical element in our
economy and one that is directly protected in the U.S Constitution.
I feel that an important way to protect patent rights is to clearly
understand what groups and companies actively oppose these rights.
Unfortunately, many of these companies think that it is best that they act
in secret. I wonder what they don't want us to know?
Just one example--apart from the members listed on its website, Unified
Patents has stated in court filings that it must protect the identity of its
If you know the identity of any business that is a member of Unified Patents
or any similar organization, please let me know.
Please make sure that you only send me legally obtained information that is
not subject to any confidentiality agreement that you may have with any
You can send an email response to me at:
Happy New Year!