Although the lawsuits were filed separately, the defendants are saving money by sharing strategies and resources instead of fighting the lawsuits on their own. The lawsuit against the Times is scheduled to go through at least the middle of next year.
Some see the case as highlighting the need for patent reform.
Berkeley's Schultz says it should be easier for defendants to force the patent office to re-examine its past decisions on issuing patents, and easier for patents to be struck down in court. That way, patent holders would be less able to make a business out of extracting settlements by using the threat of costly litigation.
Some changes are coming. Last September, President Barack Obama signed into law the first major change in patent law in six decades. It is aimed at streamlining the patent process, reducing costly legal battles, and giving the patent office more money to process applications in a timely fashion.
Certain parts of the law won't take effect until March, but a provision that took effect right away has made it more difficult for patent holders to name dozens of defendants in a single suit. That has led to a decreased number of companies sued. PatentFreedom estimates the number of defendants this year will fall to around 3,500.
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