U.S. patent owners can correct defects in their patents by asking the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to reissue the patent. Such defects range from claims to the invention that are overly broad or narrow to errors in the specification or drawings. If the reissue application request is accepted and ultimately allowed by the patent office, the original patent is surrendered, corrected, and "reissued" with a new patent number. This process of surrender and reissue can raise questions as to whether rights to a reissue patent are licensed by an agreement that grants rights under the original patent but is silent as to whether rights are granted under a "reissue" of that patent.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas recently addressed this issue in Intel Corp. v. Negotiated Data Solutions, LLC, No. 2:08-cv-319 (E.D. Tex. June 13, 2011). Based on its analysis of the parties' mutual intent, the court ruled that the agreement included reissue patents and that the terms of the license agreement protected the licensee from claims of direct and indirect infringement related to sales of products that include the licensee's products. The court, however, declined to find that the licensee was immune from other forms of indirect infringement.
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