Deciphiring ‘Patent Trolls’

Susan Decker explains that “nobody likes ‘patent trolls,’ even if they’re not quite sure what they are.”

“It’s a term without clear definition and yet it’s being used to push Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court right now to curb abusive litigation without damaging a centuries-old system designed to promote advances in science and industry.”

The [Internet Association] group cites studies putting litigation expenses at $29 billion a year and estimating that complaints from non-manufacturers make up two-thirds of complaints filed. It included litigation from all ‘non-practicing entities.'”

“By contrast, a U.S. Government Accountability Office report last year only counted ‘patent monetization entities,’ companies buying patents to profit from royalties or lawsuits. Such suits made up 19 percent of the complaints filed between 2007 and 2011, GAO said.”

“Some lawmakers are getting wise to the distinctions, and say legislation should target behavior and not ownership.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy is working on a bill that “would require more disclosure of patent ownership, expand the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s review process for issued patents and have losers pay some of the winner’s fees.”

“The House in December approved legislation requiring patent owners to provide more data on their inventions and limiting pre-trial information that can be sought from accused patent violators.”

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