updated 04:05 pm EDT, Fri June 24, 2011
Interval lawsuits stopped for patent reexamination
Interval Research's lawsuits against web giants has faced a setback in the past week as Judge Marsha Pechman froze the cases. All of them are on hold until the USPTO conducts a reexamination of all four of the Paul Allen-backed company's patents. The case will now go ahead only if the agency finds that the patents were still valid after checking for prior art and other criteria.
One of the four patent claims had also been given a non-final rejection that risked its claims being tossed outright.
A willingness to stay the lawsuits signals potential long-term trouble for the lawsuits, which target Apple, Facebook, Google, Netflix, and several other companies that have online commerce. Judges can allow reexamination of patents without having to put a hold on lawsuits if they don't believe the halt would do damage or if they have concerns that the patents might not survive the process and could affect the case. With Interval's current lawsuits, Judge Pechman complained about the volume of patent complaints and has been hoping to minimize the amount of disputes she has to process.
Interval Research has faced a stiff battle for public perception. It was the offshoot of an actual research firm that tried but failed to get significant developments in the market. Since then, it has been a non-contributing company and has been criticized for behaving like a classic patent troll, waiting a decade until it can make the most profit from others' work rather than acting as soon as possible. [via IPWatchdog]