Patent Troll Activity Increases in Ohio Midst the Coronavirus Outbreak

COVID-19
May 14, 2020
 

Last year, we commented twice on the increase in Patent Troll activity in Northeast Ohio. (See our February 14, 2019 and April 30, 2019 First Alerts.) Patent Trolls (non-practicing entities who generally seek to monetize patents through litigation or threatened litigation) were relatively inactive for a number of years following certain changes in the patent laws. However, last year we noted an uptick in the number of clients receiving threatening correspondence from Patent Trolls. Further, we reported that certain Patent Trolls were taking the unusual additional step of asserting patent infringement claims against Northeast Ohio companies in the local federal district courts.

The trend that we first identified last year has accelerated in recent weeks. It appears that some Patent Trolls are attempting to use the economic uncertainty associated with the coronavirus outbreak along with the threat of litigation to extract royalty payments in exchange for licenses to patent portfolios.

We are aware of several clients who have recently received letters from Patent Trolls claiming infringement of their patents. Additionally, this year, several patent infringement actions have been filed in Ohio by Patent Trolls targeting companies in Ohio and elsewhere. See e.g., Landmark Technology A, LLC v. Sterling Paper Co., Case No. 2:20-cv-00769-JLG-CMV (S.D.Ohio) (filed 2/10/20); Electronic Receipts Delivery Systems, LLC v. J.C. Penney Corporation, Inc., Case No. 5:20-cv-00776-SL (N.D.Ohio) (filed 4/9/20); Electronic Receipts Delivery Systems, LLC v. Menard, Inc., Case No. 5:20-cv-00777-SL (N.D.Ohio) (filed 4/9/20); Electronic Receipts Delivery Systems, LLC v. Children's Place, Inc., Case No. 5:20-cv-00775-BYP (N.D.Ohio) (filed 4/9/20); Electronic Receipts Delivery Systems, LLC v. Carter's Inc., Case No. 5:20-cv-00774-SL (N.D.Ohio) (filed 4/9/20); Symbology Innovations, LLC v. Under Armour, Inc., Case No. 5:20-cv-00890-BYP (N.D.Ohio) (filed 4/24/20); and Symbology Innovations, LLC v. L'Occitane, Inc., Case No. 1:20-cv-00889-BYP (N.D.Ohio) (filed 4/24/20).

As before, we urge anyone receiving unsolicited correspondence alleging patent infringement or offering licenses to one or more patents to contact us before responding. We have the knowledge and experience to quickly, efficiently, and cost effectively assist you in deciding how best to deal with such allegations or offers. We have tools available to us that can quickly and efficiently differentiate between the Patent Trolls who have a history of litigation and those who do not. We can also quickly and efficiently identify whether the patents being offered for licensing have been the subject of earlier litigation or USPTO proceedings, which might bear on their validity or value.

Calfee has a large and sophisticated intellectual property practice, including patent litigation. Calfee’s Intellectual Property Litigation practice is included in the 2019 “Best Law Firms” rankings by U.S. News – Best Lawyers in America (National and Metropolitan Cleveland rankings). Calfee’s Intellectual Property practice is also ranked by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. We stand ready to help you.


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