Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Patent licensing updates: 11 licensees and growing

In our previous installment "Patents and the small business inventor," we noted the high cost of acquiring a patent, maintaining it with the patent office, fighting off ex-parte re-examinations, and then enforcing the granted legal rights to your intellectual property (IP) against companies that are often much richer than you are as a small inventor.  With the advent of the Alice ruling, some even hope your patent will fail this legal challenge, though all such challenges to our patent have been dropped or lost.

Competitors will threaten you with counter lawsuits.  Competitors will threaten you with high legal fees needed to protect your IP as they play linguistic games around the meaning of "is" (no actual confusion) and "publishing house" (means nothing without context) and present straw man arguments.  They will say what you invented was obvious, a conclusion they wish to reach by discounting the truly obvious fact that sufficient technology existed for decades under public key infrastructure (PKI), yet not a single vendor or academic offered the new approach before.  And once you did offer the approach along with a publicly available patent disclosing it, everyone followed this "now obvious" solution.

Fortunately, Yozons has been working with our law firm to iron out patent license agreements with various parties.  We now have 11 companies covered by our patent license, from the largest to the smallest of competitors in the e-signature space, as well as PDF vendors and real estate vendors.  It is a slow moving process involving lawyers, bean counters and sometimes the courts themselves.

Two companies we approached had suggested they would cease operations rather than acquire the license, but in the end, both ended up purchasing the license rather than closing shop.  This is good as competition is much needed, and our license fees are most reasonable.

Our '079 patent works well in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  We have some success in the U.K., but as the E.U. moves itself backwards with it's updated (they had a previously sound e-signature directive) Advanced Electronic Signature regulation called eIDAS, our invention cannot work.  Our IP has no place in a PKI world, and that's a good thing.

In fact, no web-based solution will work easily with eIDAS, and it's just silly to suggest that end users will be better suited to keeping digital signature keys and documents secure on their own.  Security is hard, and end users are known for skipping anything hard.  Click here?  Looks legit to me?  Gotta see this?  Pretending that infected PCs and misplaced laptops, phones and tablets is the route to "advanced" electronic signatures misunderstands that adjective, as if going back to 1990s failed PKI via committee-generated standards will ever work in practice.

There is a reason why e-signatures in the U.S.A. have taken off compared to other countries and the E.U.  We invented it!