Self-professed “serial inventor” Ric Richardson was heading to Utah soon to “save the music industry” with a new security technology, he said.
The Byron Bay founder of software company Uniloc that won on appeal a $US388 million patent infringement case against Microsoft – the largest of its type in US history - and starred in a 308-page Federal Trade Commission review of the “troubled” US patent system this week, said he had just two years to build a new company where he previously took 18 years.
Although he wouldn’t comment on the contents of the US Government report that criticised how patent damages were awarded in US jury trials, Richardson said new avenues were opened to him to seek a greater amount from Microsoft based on a figure of about $2 for each Windows operating system activation.
Richardson, who counted about 140 projects and inventions in his portfolio, used Uniloc's original win to pursue other alleged infringers including McAfee and Sony.
The commission singled out Uniloc and the practice of “rule-of-thumb” valuations in court cases as detrimental to innovation and competition policy and, ultimately, harming consumers.
It recommended reining in experts by boosting the role of district courts in “excluding unreliable expert testimony on damages from trial” and encouraging judges to be more active “gatekeepers” of information presented to juries.
Richardson rejected the tag of “patent troll in a van” that was levelled against him last year by a Melbourne intellectual property lawyer, reiterating his position that “patent trolls do not spend 18 years building [a] business that they are only trying to defend”. (The reference to a van was made in relation to a story that showed Richardson working from a mobile office near his home in Byron Bay, NSW.)
Uniloc successfully sued Microsoft in September 2009 in the District Court of Rhode Island, only to have the decision vacated by a judge on appeal. That decision was reversed in January but required a new way to calculate damages.
Richardson said his new information security software venture for the music industry would be the kernel from which a new enterprise would spring separate from Uniloc and that he was focused on inventing new technologies and less on the running of the original business, which he had handed over to others.
But he said Uniloc was looking forward to walking into court with a “guilty Microsoft” in the next round of the legal battle later this year when Uniloc lawyers Clayton Utz, who encouraged the original '216 patent' application in 1992 that proved so prescient, were expected to seek higher damages based on the new formula.
Richardson has committed to donating a big portion of the payout to charity.