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Uniloc Keeps Filing Software Suits, and NPE Patents Fare Poorly At Trial

Publication Date: 
November 01, 2010
Corporate Counsel
Joe Mullin

Professor Mark Lemley is quoted in this Corporate Counsel story regarding his innovative research on intellectual property:

U.S. Patent No. 5,490,216--which is owned by California-based Uniloc and purports to cover "software activation," a type of antipiracy system widely used to register and control copies of software--was nearly one of the most valuable patents to make its way to court last year.

In April 2009, Uniloc won a $388 million jury infringement verdict against Microsoft in federal district court in Rhode Island. Unfortunately for Uniloc, the judge who oversaw the trial tossed out the award five months later, ruling that the software giant had not infringed the patent and that the jury had no basis for its verdict.


Stanford University law professor Mark Lemley's studies tend to make waves in the world of intellectual property. One reason: A lot of folks who inhabit that world seem to take offense at studies that scrutinize the value of patents, and especially patent litigation, as an engine of innovation.

Which is why previous Lemley studies, which found that patent defendants almost never copy anything, that engineers routinely ignore patents (so much for public notice), and that universities often behave similarly to "patent trolls" (that is, in ways that aren't likely to benefit the social good), have not been universally well-received by the patent bar.