CJ becomes a troll
I got scooped in this by a blog I write for as well. However I think this need a bit more of a treatment.
In an interesting new development, CJ Asset Management has decided to be come a patent troll. The company is starting up a fund centered around five "wireless technology" patents owned by anonymous government research institute. I use quotes since I have yet to see the patents and the patents used in these types of cases can be a little obscure as how they relate to the technology they are being targeted at. It seem that the suits will be filed in the US, and the ITC in particular.
While I encourage such stuff, I have a bad feeling about this particular case. The article indicates that the anonymous government agency has looked into enforcement before, only to find it "unable to pursue the issue because of costs". First it does not take that much money for a few C&D's to be shot off, and if the patents are pertinent companies have already learned its easier just to pay. However if the patents in question are not remotely applicable (or if they royalty is exorbitant), its better to fight. If the anonymous institute has already pursued this and has come to this point, it does not reflect flatteringly on the quality of the five patents.
Second, I find this particularly interesting since the US is the target for the litigation. While patent issues are very expensive to litigate in the US, I find it hard to believe a US firm would turn down a contingency basis similar to the CJ offer if the research institute has a strong case.
Which leads us down a slightly darker path. If the chance of success on these cases are "iffy", what might that say about the quality of the patents. If a target of one of these suits really tries to fight, a common defense is to get the patent either narrowed or invalided completely. If such an act is taken, especially in light of the recent US Supreme Court ruling in KSR v. Teleflex, could this anonymous institute's patents be invalidated? I think CJ may be overplaying its hand.
Finally to get back to the other blog post mentioned before, the list of "targets" of the actions is rather interesting in that leaves out any Korean company. They could already be paying, or perhaps... Well depending on how this is done, it may end up feeding some of the questions about Korea's honesty regarding IP protection.