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Fed Circuit Roundup: Venue Gets Murkier, Crowdsourcing Prior Art?

Some days, it just seems like we should burn down our entire patent system and redesign it from the ground up. Today is one of those days.

How complicated is venue in a patent case? Take a look at Apple. They're in Cupertino, California, right? Except, they have a one-person subsidiary in Luxembourg, which itself has a six-person subsidiary that does nothing but patent work, and is located in the patent plaintiff-friendly Eastern District of Texas.

Where do they sue? Probably Texas, since it's so patent-friendly. Of course, that's probably why they located a new subsidiary there. And when a defendant has to travel to Texas to be sued, well, it's probably too bad. And two recent decisions by the Federal Circuit won't help, as the panel took an already murky procedural question and made it worse.

Meanwhile, the White House is hoping that someone will take their bribe fellowship and run with it, as they're hoping that someone can come up with a way to efficiently crowdsource prior art examination to reduce the amount of crap patents that are issued.

Fed. Cir. Bows to Venue Manipulation

The Washington Legal Foundation, in a great article on Forbes, points to two recent Federal Circuit decisions that'll be sure to make venue an unpredictable nightmare for patent disputes.

One case was the aforementioned Apple scenario, except Apple was trying to get the case moved to Cupertino, where, ya know, everything company-related resides, except, of course, their six patent cowboys. In the other case, Barnes & Noble incorporated in Tennessee immediately before filing twenty or so lawsuits in the Western District of Tennessee. The Federal Circuit kept the case in Tennessee because of the convenience of keeping one suit with the other nineteen.

Venue shopping achieved, so long as you buy file in bulk, apparently.

Here's a better question: why are patent suits handled in regular court anyway? Do we really think juries of ordinary people, presided over by jack-of-all-trade federal judges, are the best way to decide complicated patent disputes?

We've got the Federal Circuit for patent appeals -- why not a separate bankruptcy-like trial court system for patents?

Presidential Innovation Fellowship for USPTO Prior Art

Hat tip to PatentlyO, which passed along word of this fellowship opportunity. The White House wants the crowd to contribute to prior art searches:

To help ensure that U.S. patents are of the highest quality, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is launching a new initiative focused on expanding ways for companies, experts, and the general public to help patent examiners, holders, and applicants find "prior art"--that is, the technical information patent examiners need to make a determination of whether an invention is truly novel or "patent-worthy." This effort will focus on driving valuable contributions to the patent process and enhancing patent quality--strengthening a process that is vital to innovation and economic growth.

More information, and the application, are available at the White House's website.

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