On January 20, 2011, Main Hastings LLC filed four false patent marking lawsuits against several financial institutions and subsidiaries, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup, Inc., First Citizens Bank and Trust Co., HSBC, City National Bank, SunTrust Bank, PNC Bank, Union Bank, and Zions First National Bank. The lawsuits alleged that the patent owners had falsely marked their products with expired patent numbers. All of the lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
Current patent law provides for damages against the patent owner up to $500 per article marked with an expired patent number; however, the U.S. Congress and several courts are considering changes to the law to deter future false patent marking lawsuits. Using similar litigation and settlement tactics as patent holding companies, Main Hastings LLC is one of several "false marking trolls" pursuing litigation in the federal courts against owners of expired patents. These recent cases serve as reminders to patent owners to periodically review their patent marking procedures.
(Source: The Wall Street Journal)