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One Inventor’s Battle With the Patent Troll Issue”

One Inventor's Battle With the Patent Troll Issue”

“When a patent proprietor faces District Courtroom invalidity-rates larger than 90% in some years and success charges as little as 9% to 14% to succeed in a judgment on the deserves, is a license that’s priced to advertise settlement a nefarious apply that takes benefit of the system or an inexpensive enterprise choice that takes under consideration dangers that staggeringly disfavor patent house owners?”

Wayne Evans

Whenever you see a docket report with a patent lawsuit filed by a non-practicing entity (NPE), do you assume it’s simply one other patent troll profiting from the system? Or would you be prepared to think about that underlying each patent litigation is a human story of invention, which is the embodiment and manifestation of an innovator’s aspirations and sacrifices?

These human tales are too typically marginalized within the patent troll debate. One such story is that of Wayne Evans. His life took him from the depths of poverty and loss to the struggles of being an entrepreneur elevating a household and, finally, to late-in-life success as an inventor, innovator, and writer.


Humble Beginnings

Evans was born into poverty within the coronary heart of the Nice Melancholy in 1935. His father left residence when he was a toddler, leaving his mom to boost three youngsters.

The seed for Evans’ lifelong ardour was planted when he was 5. He recollects wandering off at some point on the lookout for his sister. It didn’t take lengthy for him to turn out to be helplessly misplaced. Hours appeared like an eternity earlier than being discovered, as he repeatedly referred to as out for his sister. Although traumatic, this expertise fueled his dedication to assist discover individuals who have been misplaced and in want of assist.

Instability was a continuing in Evans’ childhood. He misplaced his stepfather and eldest brother in World Struggle II. It was troublesome for Evans to course of the loss. He harbored an anger in the direction of life, emotions that masked a worry of dying alone.

Evans recollects discovering aid from onerous occasions dropping himself in tales from his radio. His curiosity would get the higher of him—how did his favourite tales come out of skinny air from a picket field? This enchantment planted the seeds for his lifelong quest to know wi-fi know-how and to assist make the world a greater place.

His curiosity pushed him to review electrical engineering at an area commerce faculty in Indiana. He labored a midnight shift at a radio station to help himself. After commencement, Evans was of eligible draft age and enlisted within the army. Evans acquired coaching and have become a army teacher in microwave communications, for which he was honored with the Excellent Teacher Award in 1957. The army additionally honored him with the Excellent Solider Award in 1959.

Evans at a army outpost on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, 1959.

Due partially to his technical experience and resourcefulness, the army chosen Evans to function a protection communications outpost to watch Soviet communications through the Chilly Warfare. In 1959, Evans was stationed within the coldest, most desolate army outpost on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, 500 miles north of any civilization. There, he was pressured to confront his fears of dying alone when a hurricane struck the bottom. For 3 infinite days, he endured threats of freezing and radiation poisoning. After the hurricane handed and army personnel rescued Evans, it took him 4 days to recuperate from hypothermia and shock.

One Hundred Dollars and a Roast Beef Dinner

When Evans returned to civilian life in his mid 20s, issues rotated. He married Annie, the lady of his goals, and earned an electrical engineering diploma with honors from Purdue College.

After graduating in 1965, he accepted a job supply from RCA, the world’s main shopper electronics firm on the time. At RCA, Evans was a part of a design group that pioneered improvements in shopper electronics. Evans invented and obtained greater than 10 patents on quite a lot of groundbreaking improvements, together with the primary use of an built-in circuit in a shopper system, the primary transistor in a colour TV receiver, and the primary prototype of a wristwatch wi-fi communicator.

Evans was even featured in and photographed for Fashionable Science, for his contributions to the “tv set of the longer term.” Widespread Science, June 1970, pgs. 48-49. He delved into his ardour for inventing and was elated to be on the slicing fringe of shopper electronics. However the meager compensation he earned for his patents left him feeling empty. As an worker, he needed to relinquish possession in his innovations to his employer. In return, he acquired $100 per invention and a roast beef dinner.

After 13 years at RCA, Evans moved on to GE. His knack for inventing adopted him however the alternatives to profit from his innovations didn’t. His employer once more reaped all possession and income from his innovations. After 4 years at GE, the recession of the 1980s befell the nation. GE laid off staff, together with Evans.

Evans at GE, 1980

Decided to not permit poverty to afflict his household, Evans launched into a journey to create alternatives as an entrepreneur and enterprise proprietor. However the street of entrepreneurship was a troublesome one. For the subsequent 20 years, Evans would dedicate himself to creating location and security know-how, earlier than the army allowed satellite tv for pc use for civilians. From 1981 onwards, it was a continuing cycle of scraping cash collectively to start out corporations solely to see them disappear, years with out regular revenue and numerous hours of guide labor, and endlessly negotiating collaborations that didn’t pan out.

Most taxing, although, was repeatedly going again to Annie through the years, explaining why he wanted to shut a enterprise enterprise and begin over.

Life as an Entrepreneur 

As Evans cycled via quite a few startup ventures, he took steps to innovate on his childhood goals—to seek out higher methods to implement location and security know-how with a view to discover those that have been alone and in want of assist.

Within the 1980s, impressed by his daughter who was a nurse, and to assist his aged mom, Evans developed and deployed a location monitoring system in an elder care facility to assist determine and find aged sufferers in want of emergency care.

Within the early 90s, Evans utilized his location know-how to automobiles. This time, he labored as a marketing consultant with a South African telecommunications firm to transform car analog monitoring methods from an analog mobile system to a digital one.

In 1998, Evans put his consulting travels and tasks on maintain when his mom wanted help and got here to stay with him and his household in Atlanta. The time away from journey gave Evans a chance to delve into what he felt was lacking with GPS know-how, notably in car monitoring.

Evans’ Private Location Wristwatch Prototype (1969) subsequent to smartwatch.

Whereas working two consulting jobs, Evans started a two-year challenge to develop a brand new method to implement GPS monitoring. Evans invested hundreds of dollars, financed by way of bank cards, to start out a laboratory in his basement. He carried out a pricey trial-and-error course of to arrange his lab, shopping for and testing numerous gear.

Although he wasn’t a programmer, Evans painstakingly developed one thing that didn’t but exist—a latitudinal and longitudinal database with software program to correlate GPS coordinates to road intersections.

After two years of trial and error and numerous hours in his lab, he invented a telematics unit that he might absorb his automotive and drive to a road crossing, and it might routinely acknowledge the intersection.

Although he didn’t realize it on the time, this was the precursor to GPS location-based providers that may 10 years later penetrate the worldwide market.

Impressed to develop know-how to assist individuals, Evans developed different improvements, comparable to emergency reporting techniques, street hazard help for the disabled, and automated collision notification methods.

Patent Issues

Evans believed he had developed sufficient to acquire patent safety on his GPS improvements. However patents have been costly. Evans took on heavy bank card debt establishing his lab and paying for his youngsters’s school schooling.

With the loving and unconditional help of his spouse, Evans used their household’s retirement funds to rent a patent agent. Because of his agent accepting delayed funds, Evans filed and was issued a household of patents to guard his GPS innovations.

Evans was elated—in his late 60s he owned the mental property to his innovations for the primary time in his life. His patents have been the end result of 20 years of researching higher methods to implement GPS know-how, testing theories within the lab, and investing in his goals.

However Evans didn’t understand that he had one other 10 years of hardship forward. He nonetheless wanted to advertise his innovations and patents.

Evans was accustomed to engineering, however patents have been a brand new terrain. Now in his 60s, he needed to discover ways to function in a world of patents. He was a fish out of water, making an attempt to know prolonged contracts and estimate affordable charges and phrases.

Evans couldn’t afford entry charges for commerce exhibits the place he might promote his prototype and patents, so he needed to discover different methods. He researched and located contacts to corporations he believed may benefit from his GPS know-how. He created advertising supplies and scheduled calls and conferences to pitch his prototype and patents. However time and time once more, every group would bow out and leads would go chilly.

Evans subsequent labored with IP promoters. He taught them about his innovations and illustrated their market applicability. However the IP promoters all needed the identical factor: upfront money. It was money Evans merely didn’t have. He was already in debt and drained his retirement funds to construct the lab, design and check the prototype, and acquire his GPS patents.

It was the late 2000s and, now in his 70s, Evans’ well being was declining. Emotional fatigue over a three-year lengthy wills-and-trust litigation, stroke, and again damage restricted Evans’ mobility and power.

After 10 years of working to advertise his patents, he felt the necessity to transfer on. After devoting many years, investing numerous hours of labor, and taking over debt, he was at a lifeless finish and fatigued. With a heavy coronary heart, he needed to clarify to Annie why the funding in his lab and patents didn’t pan out, and why they once more wanted to maneuver on.

Evans witnessed GPS know-how blossom within the financial system. He noticed location-based providers develop into a rising development within the automotive business. With unhappiness, Evans felt like he missed his alternative.

The Collaboration

Although Evans moved on, his patents have been publicly listed on the USPTO database. In early 2010, Evans acquired a chilly name from the writer of this text.

Although considerably skeptical, Evans was joyful to listen to that our firm believed his GPS patents have been forward of his time and had market applicability all through the location-based providers market. He was happier but that we didn’t ask for upfront cash. This started an eight-year working relationship and lifelong friendship.

We introduced Evans with an inventory of corporations we needed to strategy. Counterintuitively, we weren’t snug approaching working corporations within the location-based providers area. We defined to Evans that patent legal guidelines have been such that if we introduced these corporations with proof of his patents’ worth (i.e., declare charts that confirmed how Evans’ patent claims learn on their merchandise), that would expose Evans to a declaratory-judgement lawsuit. With out funding to defend a possible litigation, we couldn’t danger that publicity.

We researched the market and discovered of different patent consumers, similar to IP licensing teams that actively acquired patents. We created a 50+ web page slide deck of selling materials illustrating the widespread market applicability of Evans’ patents. We introduced market tendencies and the way his patents map to in-unit telematics, private navigation units, smartphones with GPS purposes, docking stations, and different know-how areas.

We arrange technical calls and developed an ongoing dialogue with numerous teams. We even prolonged our attain to European corporations. However disappointingly, every group declined to make a suggestion. We realized IP licensing teams didn’t see the worth we noticed in Evans’ patents. After two years, we regretfully reported to Evans that our brokering efforts have been fruitless.

The Final Resort: Lawsuits

Having exhausted each choice to promote his GPS patents, we thought-about our ultimate choice—submitting lawsuits to license his GPS patents. However lawsuits are costly and Evans needed no a part of litigation because of his declining well being and the wills-and-trust litigation that had left him bodily and emotionally fatigued.

Regardless of the obstacles, we introduced our plan to license his patents to corporations within the locations-based providers market. Although we’d been unsuccessful for 2 years, Evans put his religion in us and our plan. He assigned his patents to NovelPoint Monitoring and we launched dozens of litigations to start negotiations.

Litigation afforded us the chance to barter instantly with corporations. On the finish of our five-year licensing marketing campaign, Evans reaped the rewards of his then 30-year pursuit of GPS know-how. Greater than 80 corporations took a license to Evans’ GPS patents. In his 80s, Evans turned a millionaire.

After a lifetime of working in business, founding eight startups, and being the inventor on 18 patents, it was by taking the danger to finance his personal patented innovations and submitting lawsuits that Evans discovered his success.

With the cash earned by means of patent licensing, Evans replenished his retirement funds, paid for much-needed healthcare for himself and his spouse, and invested in his youngsters’ and grandkids’ companies.

At this time, Evans has newfound vibrancy. He’s a motivational speaker, the writer of six books and is engaged on six extra.

The Backlash

Regardless of the success, Evans’ patent and our litigation efforts acquired harsh criticism. One critic nominated considered one of Evans’ patents for the “Silly Patent of the Month.” The critic contended Evans’ patent “devolves right into a wilderness of made-up phrases and technobabble . . .” and “consists of fabricated phrases” that makes understanding its which means an train in “cross-reference and guesswork.”

The critic continued: “Even worse, key phrases within the claims . . . don’t even seem within the description of the purported invention, . . .” making it “very troublesome, if not unimaginable, to know what the claims imply and to guess how a courtroom may interpret them.”

This critic famous none of NovelPoint Monitoring’s litigations reached a choice on the deserves of the claims and concluded that the patent was a “nice instance” of “how utilizing pretend phrases can be utilized to obfuscate what the patent truly claims, after which used to say infringement” for one thing aside from the invention.

I’d like to answer that. When Evans filed the patent purposes on his GPS improvements, he didn’t use “pretend phrases” to “obfuscate what the patent truly claims.” He was grateful to work with a patent agent who accepted delayed funds and relied on him to draft the technical language of his patent purposes, to guard the improvements he sacrificed to develop.

Evans by no means “gam[ed]” the system. When he used his household’s retirement funds to finance his patent filings, he believed that after spending 20 years on analysis, financing his lab, and dealing late nights to develop his prototype, he made an development in GPS know-how that was well worth the sacrifice to patent.

When Evans developed his prototype that would convert latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates and mechanically acknowledge road intersections, this was a breakthrough in location-based know-how for which Evans ought to obtain reward.

If the critic reads Evans’ patent and, opposite to foundational patent regulation rules, believes it’s restricted to what’s described within the “Background of the Invention” relating to automated location and collision notification, and is additional unable to interpret patent claims that had been accredited and issued by the USPTO, one should query whether or not that may be a drawback with Evans’ patent or the critic’s competency.

Relating to NovelPoint Monitoring’s litigations, the critic surmised we have been “gaming” the system by deliberately avoiding a choice on the deserves and settling for “nuisance worth.”

In case you consider that, then think about this: when a patent proprietor faces District Courtroom invalidity-rates higher than 90% in some years and success charges as little as 9% to 14% to succeed in a judgment on the deserves, is a license that’s priced to advertise settlement a nefarious apply that takes benefit of the system or an inexpensive enterprise determination that takes under consideration dangers that staggeringly disfavor patent house owners?

In the long run, we licensed Evans’ patents in a fashion that honored his needs to keep away from his involvement in litigation. I can’t fault the critic for her opinion, as a result of she was unaware. I hope this text sheds mild and facilitates larger understanding.

Evans’ GPS patents aren’t silly. His 20 years of analysis to develop GPS know-how wasn’t silly. His sacrifice to delve into his retirement funds to finance his patents wasn’t silly. And efficiently licensing his patents as a final resort after 12 years of tried IP promotion and brokering wasn’t an instance of gaming the system.

It’s honorable. It’s a narrative value telling. It’s a narrative of an American who believed in himself and his goals and was prepared to place all of it on the road.

The subsequent time you see a patent lawsuit listed on a docket report, I hope you keep in mind this story.


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