Patent Troll snubbed by the Supremes

It was a day of infamy for the infamous yesterday when the US Supreme Court said it would not take on an internet technology patent case that pitted a company accused of being a patent troll.

Soverain Software made a mistake of taking on the online shopping site Newegg over its infringement of three patents known as the “shopping cart patents,” which describe a way to buy products online and pay for them.

Soverain had been leaning on a long list of companies, including J. Crew Group, Macy’s and Williams-Sonoma. It won its first round against Newegg, in the troll friendly US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas but lost at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The Appeal Court judges said the three online shopping patents were invalid because they were obvious.

In its filing to the Supreme Court, Newegg argued that the Federal Circuit decision should be upheld. “Petitioner’s notorious ‘shopping cart’ patent merely applies the common sense concept of a shopping cart to the Internet,” Newegg said.

The Supreme Court announced yesterday that it had no interest in looking at the case. Newegg’s chief legal officer, Lee Cheng, was jolly happy.

“The witch is dead, hurray,” he said. “We are very, very pleased that the Supreme Court has recognised … these patents should never have been granted in the first place. What we have showed in the Soverain case is that fighting back works.”

Soverain President Katharine Wolanyk sulked that it was really tough time to be a patent owner.

Well sort of. It is harder to be a patent troll these days, you have to have a patent for something which is not so obvious and you probably invented.

It might even get worse for the trolls. There are a variety of bills before Congress aimed at reining in what many tech companies complain is frivolous patent litigation. It is unlikely that anyone will shed a tear.