Universal Display Corp. (“UDC”; NASDAQ: OLED) is facing its own real and immediate potential “sudden death” crisis this November. But that is only one of its problems; another real problem UDC is facing is ongoing executive and legislative action against patent troll schemes. UDC’s OLED scheme is one of the most egregious existing patent troll schemes. Patent trolls, or “Patent Assertion Entities,” like UDC “don’t actually produce anything,” according to President Obama, and try to “hijack somebody else’s idea and see if they can extort some money out of them.”
As UDC’s drama at the European Patent Office (“EPO”) plays out, it looks as though the U.S. government will be taking an even tougher stance against patent trolls. Four major industry lobbying groups recently initiated an ad campaign to urge Congress to crack down on patent trolls, an idea which has reportedly garnered – believe it or not – bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans.
Last summer, the White House announced a slew of measures to prevent patent trolls like UDC from being a “drain on the American economy.” The White House announcement included both legislative priorities and executive actions without involving Congress. This came on top of the reforms put in place by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, which institutes “new mechanisms for post-grant review of patents.” This could be a death knell for UDC especially since EPO mechanisms being used to protect the OLED industry and its customers from the UDC patent troll allow for even quicker and more sweeping challenges than U.S. law. An invalidation of a UDC patent by the EPO would allow for a surer path to invalidation in the U.S.
UDC was involved with mundane optimizing experiments in the 1990s that were used to justify absurdly unrealistic broad invention and patent claims, based on our review of all available experimentation disclosures and expert consultations and pending litigation. UDC is attempting to use this scheme to “hijack” (using President Obama’s language quoted above) development of a commercial OLED by real OLED manufacturers and OLED marketers.