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A Change In The Patent Troll Landscape

The push for patent validity is having a direct impact on how patent trolls do business. This is evidenced by Erich Spangenberg yesterday announcing that he will step down as head of IPNav, a well-known patent troll with which Rackspace has battled for years.

According to IAM magazine, his departure is in part because the patent troll business model is getting harder – there is more emphasis on making sure that patents are valid:

“The business that [Dierdre] Leane [IPNav’s new CEO] takes over will be significantly smaller than at IPNav’s peak, having shrunk from approximately 50 people to around 25 today…. Spangenberg stated that the business has reacted to significant changes in the market that have placed a greater emphasis on patent validity rather than potential infringement.

‘In 2003 we probably spent about 75% of our time valuing a portfolio on infringement and a limited amount on validity,’ he said. ‘Now the last thing you want to do is spend a few million dollars litigating only to then find out that the patents are invalid.’ He insisted that the company would grow its workforce again but that IPNav now places more value on scientists’ and engineers’ skillsets rather than those relating to the law.’”

Spangenberg concluded, “I’m not sure I would get into the business today, certainly not in the way I did in 2003.”

We are glad to see the new focus on patent validity. We challenge the validity of  every patent that is asserted against us, and we encourage all others to do the same.

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Van Lindberg.

Van Lindberg is a Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Rackspace, where he serves in both legal and technical roles.

As associate general counsel, Lindberg oversees the Intellectual Property program, directing Rackspace's strategy and policy around patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret and open source matters. He also heads Rackspace's patent reform lobbying efforts.

On the technical side, Lindberg co-chairs the company’s Technical Career Track program, or TCT, a leadership development program for the most highly skilled technical Rackers. He also does technical strategy and ecosystem engagement, identifying emerging technologies, separating out differentiating versus non-differentiating product elements and using open source strategies to be more competitive.

Previously, Lindberg worked for the international corporate law firm Haynes and Boone, LLP, where he wrote "Intellectual Property and Open Source,” and grew the firm's open source practice. He also did intellectual property transactional work, patent prosecution, litigation and post-grant actions (ex parte and inter partes reexams/reviews).

In 2012, the American Bar Association Journal named him one of "America's Top 12 Techiest Attorneys."

Lindberg currently serves as chairman of the board of the Python Software Foundation, sits on the board of the OpenStack Foundation, and was the first chair of the Docker Governance Advisory Board.


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