Protecting intellectual property (IP) rights is vital to the financial success of a business, but settling an IP dispute can be among the most expensive and time-consuming forms of litigation.
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), litigation of IP disputes increased drastically - from 3,400 lawsuits in 1991 to 6,400 in 2005 - due in part to the explosive growth of high tech innovation over the last two decades.
With many IP disputes mired in litigation for years, Bernard Knight, general counsel of the USPTO, says the average cost of a patent infringement case in the United States is $2.6 million.
So, what can a small high tech startup with limited capital do to protect its rights to the next world-changing gadget?
This week, IP attorneys, arbitrators, and mediators from around the world joined California Western faculty and representatives from the USPTO to discuss the options available to companies facing IP disputes.
Hosted by California Western School of Law’s Center for Creative Problem Solving, the Symposium on Alternative Dispute Resolution Trends in Intellectual Property Disputes discussed how the recently enacted America Invents Act streamlines the patent application and litigation processes. Panelists explored how Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) can be used to resolve certain disputes, and the challenges to settling international IP litigation.
“After working in patent law for more than 20 years, the rules of the game have now changed,” said Mark Snyder, vice president and patent counsel for Qualcomm Incorporated, referring to the changes created by the America Invents Act.
“When you think about the telecommunications industry, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, you can see why protecting intellectual property rights is very important to the California economy,” said Professor James M. Cooper, co-director of the Center for Creative Problem Solving and one of the lead organizers of the symposium. “We hope this symposium provides participants with problem-solving strategies for some of the most complex and costly legal disputes.”
Professor Thomas D. Barton, co-director of the Center for Creative Problem Solving, offered strategies for resolving various types of IP disputes based on several months researching the America Invents Act.
Barton said he hopes his presentation will inspire participants to “learn from one problem, to prevent future problems from arising.”
Center for Creative Problem Solving
The Center for Creative Problem Solving educates students and lawyers in methods for preventing problems where possible, and creatively solving those problems that do exist. The Center focuses both on using the traditional analytical process more creatively and on using nontraditional problem-solving processes, drawn from business, psychology, economics, neuroscience, sociology, and indigenous communities.