This is the latest in the series titled "NPE Showcase," where we discuss high-volume non-practicing entities (or as some call them, "patent trolls"). This installment will focus on a company named Ridgeview IP.
Ridgeview IP is an IP Edge entity responsible for 14 total lawsuits, six of which are still active. (Read more about IP Edge here with respect to another NPE named Stormborn Technologies). Most of Ridgeview's cases have been filed in the usual jurisdictions of Eastern Texas, Western Texas, and Delaware. The patent is directed to methods of displaying database search results and has been asserted against basic CRM systems and other ubiquitous software programs.
In reviewing the Complaint, one statement stood out that would benefit from further discussion: "The priority date of each of the Ridgeview Patents is at least as early as January 24, 2001." Patents enjoy a term of 20 years from their earliest effective U.S. filing date. The Patent Office can sometimes add additional patent term (called "Patent Term Adjustment") to the typical 20-year term, which here was 194 days. So isn't this patent expired?
The short answer is—yes, the patent expired on August 6, 2021. Ridgeview is therefore unable to obtain an injunction that prevents a defendant from using the patented technology. But Ridgeview doesn't care—it's an NPE who monetizes patents for money—it is not a commercial entity that competes against the defendants it sues. Ridgeview wants damages, not an injunction.
And Ridgeview can certainly obtain money damages for past infringement. The statute of limitations on patent claims is six years, meaning Ridgeview can still obtain damages for any use of the patented technology in the last six years until the expiration of the patent. For example, if Ridgeview were to sue today, it could obtain damages from November 17, 2016 until August 6, 2021 (the expiration date of the patent). Some NPEs file fewer lawsuits for an expired patent as the statute of limitations window closes and the damages period shortens. Given Ridgeview's recent filings in October, it is unclear if they will do the same as the patent reaches its useful endpoint.
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