WASHINGTON Jan 13 The U.S. Supreme Court
said on Monday it would not take on an Internet technology
patent case that pitted a company accused of aggressively
enforcing weak patents against another with an equally tough
reputation for fighting patent infringement claims.
The closely watched case involved the online shopping site
Newegg Inc, which specializes in computer products, and software
company Soverain Software LLC, which had accused Newegg of
infringing three patents known as the "shopping cart patents,"
which describe a way to buy products online and pay for them.
Chicago-based Soverain had filed similar lawsuits against a
long list of companies, including J. Crew Group, Macy's Inc
Against Newegg, Soverain won in the U.S. District Court for
the Eastern District of Texas but lost at the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which ruled that the three
online shopping patents were invalid because they were obvious.
In its filing to the Supreme Court, Newegg argued that the
Federal Circuit decision should be upheld. "Petitioner's
notorious 'shopping cart' patent merely applies the common sense
concept of a shopping cart to the Internet," Newegg said.
Newegg's chief legal officer, Lee Cheng, applauded the
"The witch is dead, hurray," he said. "We are very, very
pleased that the Supreme Court has recognized ... these patents
should never have been granted in the first place. What we have
showed in the Soverain case is the fighting back works."
Soverain President Katharine Wolanyk said, "We're obviously
disappointed that the court denied our petition," said Wolanyk.
"It's a really tough time to be a patent owner."
There are a variety of bills before Congress aimed at
reining in what many tech companies complain is frivolous patent
Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee,
has sponsored legislation aimed at targeting patent assertion
entities (PAEs) - companies often known derisively as "patent
trolls" - which buy or license patents and then extract
licensing fees or file infringement lawsuits seen as frivolous.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill in December
that would encourage judges to award fees to the winner of an
infringement lawsuit if the judge deems the lawsuit unfounded.
The White House urged Congress last June to take steps to
curb abusive patent lawsuits that have sprung up in recent
years, especially in the technology sector.
The case is Soverain Software LLC v. Newegg Inc., 13-477,
U.S. Supreme Court.