Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Revocation strawman: a new player in the patent litigation field

I have recently heard from Sharaz Gill, who was formerly head of patent litigation at HTC but has since gone on to found Skepsis Telecom. Explains Sharaz:
"We are basically a strawman patent revocation company specializing in UK and German revocation actions of (principally) telecoms patents. Skepsis isn’t an EPO opposition strawman, of which there are already several, but rather brings the revocation actions in the UK and German courts. As far as I am aware, this is unique in the telecoms patent litigation sector, although I gather that similar companies have been set up ad hoc in the pharma sector in the past. As a result, I thought that you and your readers might be interested in hearing about Skepsis.

I was motivated to set the company up by experiences at HTC. HTC was involved in the mobile phone wars from the outset and we successfully defended actions against IPCom, Apple and Nokia, to name but a few. Most of our disputes involved HTC being confronted with often large numbers of patents of dubious validity, which were nevertheless still dangerous because of the bifurcated litigation system in Germany. More recently, we also noticed an increase in the number of NPEs bringing infringement claims in Germany, which greatly increases the risk for handset manufacturers because Germany is the biggest European market for the majority of them. It isn’t yet clear what stance the UPC will take on NPEs and the high invalidity rates of hi-tech patents in Europe more generally, so there is clearly concern in the industry. Hopefully, Skepsis can help to tip the balance back in favour bona fide manufacturers.

Skepsis is now up and running and we are already advising clients on invalidity actions. Your readers should expect to see the first invalidity actions filed fairly soon".
This blogger is curious to see how this business model works and what its impact might be, both on patent litigation in Europe and in the negotiation of settlements. He also wonders whether reader have come across any equivalent companies in other commercial or industrial sectors.  If you have, please let us know.

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