The Dysfunctional World of Patent Litigation

14 Dec ’05

This is a phrase from a great article by Jacquie McNish in today’s Globe on patent litigation, titled “RIM’s and eBay’s misadventures in the wacky world of patent law”. Some instructive observations:

Canada may enjoy a more modern patent justice system, but U.S.-style problems are spilling across the border. The costs of fighting patent cases in court have escalated so dramatically that experts say companies are increasingly deciding to settle, even if they disagree with patent claims, because it is less expensive than fighting.

“It’s unbelievable to me as an old-timer how much it costs to take a patent case to court. It’s outlandish,” said Bill Hayhurst, a retired patent lawyer and leading Canadian patent author. RIM’s battle with NTP, for example, has cost the company close to $50-million in legal fees, depending who you talk to.

The high legal costs are giving litigators powerful ammunition to squeeze settlements from firms.

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