In April, the US office of Kaspersky Lab received a patent claim from the company Uniloc, follows from the documents in the base of American justice PACER. In a lawsuit in the court of the eastern district of Texas, Uniloc named two patents, which, in her opinion, violated Kaspersky Lab, and demanded compensation for damages and compensation, the amount of which was left to the discretion of the court. Uniloc now can not name the exact amount of compensation, the president of the company Sean Burdick told Vedomosti, the company expects "no more than reasonable" payment for the use of its patented technologies.
The first patent describes the methods of interaction between the server and the client when updating the software through the taskbar. The second concerns the mechanism of "pause" when downloading and transferring files. The rights to both of these inventions belong to Uniloc, according to her lawsuit.
The American media call Uniloc a "patent troll". The same opinion is held by the head of the department for intellectual property of Kaspersky Lab Nadezhda Kashchenko and the US lawyer of the Buzko and partners Evgeny Krasnov. "Patent trolls" - a kind of companies, due to the peculiarities of legislation found mainly in the American market. They own patents for technology or ideas that are not used, but make claims to those who allegedly violate their patents. Large corporations, for whom reputation is one of the main assets, often want to settle claims at the pre-trial stage.
"Patent troll" is a disrespectful title for the patent holder, Burdik objects. According to him, Uniloc is exactly what it is and, in addition, develops its own software and patents its development.
According to Kashchenko, Uniloc owns more than 400 patents. Since its foundation in 1992, Uniloc has launched more than 300 intellectual property cases in the US, of which the most famous is the litigation with Microsoft. In 2012, the parties entered into an amicable agreement. Its details are unknown, as is the final amount of Microsoft's payments to Uniloc, Kashchenko says.
Now Uniloc is attacking Apple. In 2017, the company filed 10 lawsuits for patent infringement, each of which requires "reasonable deductions" for the use of Uniloc's patented technologies, Burdik said. He specified that this is the largest number of claims filed by Uniloc to any company.
Kashchenko does not consider Uniloc's claim fair: according to her, Kaspersky Lab does not use these technologies when updating its products. The wording of these patents, she calls "too general."
For Russian IT companies, American "patent trolls" are old acquaintances. At Kaspersky Lab, this will be the third case, the company won the two previous disputes. In 2012 she defeated IPAT. Proceedings lasted 3.5 years and cost $ 2.5 million, wrote in his blog Eugene Kaspersky. In 2013, the Russian company won a court with a "patent troll" Lodsys. The company does not disclose the amount of expenses.
Another Russian developer, ABBYY, won a court case in August 2013 with the American company Nuance, which accused ABBYY of infringement of the rights to optical recognition technology (OCR) and the packaging of software products in 2008. As compensation for damage, Nuance claimed more than $ 265 million, later the amount of claims was reduced to $ 107 million. As its former general director Sergey Andreev said, the lawsuit cost $ 10 million. More trolls ABBYY did not bother.
There were also courts started on the Russian initiative: the developer of IP-telephony Sipnet opposed the American company Straight Path.
Sipnet was going to enter the US market and saw that for the technology that was used in its products, Straight Path already conducts proceedings with large companies.
Among those with whom Straight Path was judged were Google, Sony, Sharp, Panasonic, Toshiba, Samsung, Huawei, Cisco, Avaya and Apple, recalls Sipnet's chief engineer Herman Myzovsky. Therefore, Sipnet decided to play in advance and itself began to seek the cancellation of the patent. The US patent office made a decision in favor of Sipnet, but Straight Path appealed to the US federal court with an appeal. The court reversed the decision of the patent office - however, not on the merits, but on other formal grounds, complains Mysovsky. This trial was completed in 2015. However, Sipnet for other reasons has not yet entered the US market, and the term of the patent has expired, says Myzovsky. According to him, the costs for each stage of the proceedings amounted to approximately $ 100,000.
A small company, like a start-up, a loss can go bankrupt, says Krasnov. The average amount of a settlement agreement is about $ 350,000, and the cost of a full trial ranges from $ 1 million to $ 2 million, he says.
Similar data from patent attorney Alexander Kiselyov: for one broken patent the troll asks for $ 100,000 to $ 200,000. He advises to distinguish patent trolling from competitive struggle: in this case, when trying to eliminate a competitor, the amount of the claim can be comparable to the total value of the company-defendant. It is necessary to prepare for the product to enter the market, continues Kiselev, he advises to form a patent portfolio while preparing the product for the market. But he points out the subtlety: if a company goes to the United States with a product that has already been sold for more than a year, it will not be able to patent it. The fact is that during this period the technical solution is considered known and the application is rejected because of lack of novelty, he explains.
For the defendant, there is a paradox: on the one hand, it is profitable for him to conclude a peace treaty and forget about the lawsuit - but thereby he encourages the trolls, Krasnov explains. According to him, if the trolls are put an end, it will depend on the defendants who have the money and will to fight the trolls, even if it is not the most profitable option for them purely on the personal level. It seems that Kaspersky is exactly the same, Krasnov says.