Takeaway: The USPTO’s behavior is looking suspicious after a former Head of Patents for Google assists in invalidating patents that Google was allegedly infringing.
Patent owner Martin David Hoyle filed suit on behalf of himself and his company, B. E. Technology, against the USPTO and several of its officials for allegedly depriving him and his company of their intellectual property and constitutional rights. The plaintiffs allege that the deck was stacked against them and in favor of their opponents relating to two of their patents. Both patents are related to gathering online data for targeted user experiences.
In 2006-2007, Google filed and abandoned several patent applications that were rejected due to similarities with Hoyle’s existing patents. At the time, Michelle Lee was Head of Patents and Patent Strategy at Google. In 2007, Hoyle discovered that Google, along with other tech companies, had been infringing his patents and using the targeted technology.
In 2012, Hoyle filed patent infringement suits against them. Also in 2012, the former Head of Patents at Google, Michelle Lee, became the Director of the USPTO’s office in Silicon Valley. Eventually she became Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO. Within that same year, the PTAB issued decisions in seven separate inter partes review (IPR) proceedings that Google and the other companies filed against B.E. Technology to invalidate the patents, ultimately invalidating them as anticipated by and/or obvious in all of the IPRs.
Essentially, the complaint, seeking an unspecified amount of damages, stated that several factors “amount to a particularly clear and egregious violation of Plaintiffs’ rights and leave no room for debate as to the unconstitutionality of those proceedings.”