back to article Supreme Court okays troll toll increase

The US Supreme Court has struck down rules limiting patent infringement damages in a decision opponents fear will embolden trolls. In a unanimous opinion [PDF], the court overturned a lower court's ruling in the Halo Electronics v Pulse Electronics case and, in the process, shot down a review standard that has been used to …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So basically, SCOTUS has ruled that because the Patent Act does not prescribe any kinds of "tests" and so on, none can be applied on top of the law (since the law itself would trump them). That being said, they also said that it falls to the judges themselves to use discretion when awarding for damages, meaning the judge needs to be able to recognize patent trolling when it occurs and adjust the rewards accordingly.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Judge not...

    These supreme judges were asked to confirm limits placed on the powers of other judges by non-judges. As one, they sided with their judicial brethren and killed the limits.

    Who would have guessed it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Judge not...

      No, the Supreme Court judges were asked to confirm limits placed on the powers of other judges by other judges.

      Basically they are saying if we want limits, we need to get congress to enact a law that provides them. The judicial branch cannot create them out of thin air for us. As a conservative, you should be cheering this ruling.

    2. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Judge not...

      The Seagate test was imposed on trial judges by the Court of Appeals for the Federal District. The last time I checked that court was staffed by judges; the Supreme Court, for reasons they described in their decision, reversed the CAFC.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Judge not...

        As if this is the first time the Supreme Court has reversed the CAFC.

  3. Mark 85

    Queue up the patent troll lobbyists now to ensure that no law is added or changed to impose limits.... I understand fully how our government is supposed to work. It's the way it actually does that depresses the hell out of me. Maybe if lobbyists were banned things might be different.. Fat chance of that happening.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The patent troll lobbyists cannot begin to compete with the big pocket tech lobbyists from Google, Microsoft et al who have far more to lose than to gain from allowing unlimited dollar amounts.

      No, look to the real winners from unlimited damages - the lawyers who work on a contingency basis and take 1/3 of the loot. Pity that congress is lousy with lawyers, and would be loathe to place any limits on their profession's potential income. No lobbying is needed, congress will sit on their hands and fail to act out of self-interest alone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "The patent troll lobbyists cannot begin to compete with the big pocket tech lobbyists from Google, Microsoft et al who have far more to lose than to gain from allowing unlimited dollar amounts."

        Some of these patent trolls are backed by investors with EVEN DEEPER pockets, like people in the oil industry looking for more profits. There's always a bigger fish.

  4. PJF

    Next court date..


    Hello TEXAS and MARYLAND! We're all looking at you. . .

  5. john devoy

    usa strikes again

    I wonder how many of those judges now have down payments on a nice holiday home.

  6. raving angry loony

    Patent profits

    Ever since the US government made the USPTO into a profit centre, it's mainly been a profit centre for patent trolls. The USPTO went from issuing patents that made sense and weren't covered by prior art to issuing any patent to anyone and letting the courts decide the validity of the patents. At tremendous cost to everyone involved. Except the trolls. Since they don't have any costs, they profit. Thanks to US government policy.

    SCOTUS us just admitting to the world that bad patents are, in fact, US government policy. It's up to the policy makers to change this. But of course they won't, since the patent trolls are probably also very large contributors to the corrupt system that the US government has become.

  7. ma1010

    Civilization will shortly come to a halt

    Vincent Bugliosi (famous for prosecuting the Manson Family), one of the greatest legal minds around, pointed out in his book And the Sea Will Tell that a judge is really a combination of a lawyer and a politician. Considering the genesis of these creatures, how could anyone expect anything positive from them? This is yet another nail in the coffin of innovation.

    Patent laws were created to foster innovation, and perhaps actually did that, once upon a time. Nowadays they pretty much prevent innovation. If you were silly enough to invent something useful, you now have the certainty that if your idea is really worth anything, some patent troll somewhere will find something vague in their library of useless patents (useless because, after all, trolls contribute nothing whatsoever to society or innovation) and sue you for some insane amount of money. Oh, you put rounded corners on it? Well, we've got a patent on THAT, so PAY UP! Individuals and small businesses can't possibly defend themselves against this abuse of the legal system. So why bother?

    Only big corporations can even try to play at this sort of game -- or most anything else these days. And even they have to spend more and more of their assets on fighting stupid legal battles over nothing. For example, how much money has been wasted in the Apple vs. Samsung case? Instead of fattening up lawyers, that money might have been used for something useful. The more everyone spends on lawyers, the less they spend on anything useful.

    Perhaps the reason SETI hasn't picked up any other civilizations out there is because they also evolved lawyers and patent trolls which brought those civilizations to a halt followed by degeneration into chaos.

  8. JBowler

    Read between the lines

    As is said in comments on comments below, Roberts is asking Congress to step up to the plate.

    The fact that this won't happen is nothing whatsoever to do with bias in SCOTUS: read; unaminmous!

    It's been said before, but here in the US we have the best government money can buy.

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