Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Innovation, Not Litigation

Posted by Kent Walker, SVP & General Counsel

Tomorrow the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 3309, the Innovation Act. This bipartisan bill, introduced by Chairman Bob Goodlatte, approved by the House Judiciary Committee with a 33-5 vote, and supported by the White House, would go a long way to solve the patent troll problem.

The Innovation Act would address the explosion of abusive patent litigation, helping the patent system work as intended — promoting innovation.

Patent protection is meant to provide an incentive to innovate, spurring real progress that benefits consumers. Unfortunately, patent trolls are abusing a flood of questionable patents — like those on basic e-commerce tools such as online shopping carts and shipment notification emails — to attack supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, retailers, and many other businesses, large and small. Trolls use the threat of time-consuming and expensive litigation to extort settlements, even where their claims wouldn’t hold up in court.

This kind of patent troll litigation has grown like a particularly noxious weed, increasing four-fold since 2005. By some estimates it cost the U.S. economy nearly $500 billion over the past two decades. And the problem is growing.

It’s time to step up and take action. A broad coalition of companies and organizations support the Innovation Act, which would level the playing field by controlling discovery costs, raising pleading standards, and making fee-shifting a more meaningful deterrent to frivolous allegations. We agree with Chairman Goodlatte on the need to stop the exponential increase in the use of dubious patents to attack American businesses. And we believe that legislation can go further to address the significant burden that invalid business method patents impose on innovative companies.

We strongly support Chairman Goodlatte's bill and encourage all Members of Congress to vote for this important piece of legislation. The Innovation Act would stop patent trolls from abusing the system, letting America’s productive companies focus on creating new products and jobs, not fighting frivolous patent suits.


Walt French said...

“Unfortunately, patent trolls are abusing a flood of questionable patents — like those on basic e-commerce tools such as online shopping carts and shipment notification emails…”

Oh, since they're “basic,” they're not worthy of patent protection?

Let's have a bit more honesty in discussing whether a patent should be protectable or not. In many senses, a broad scope would be proof of how important the “discovery” really was. This post argues against common-sense notions of what should be protected.

And as a PS: there've been billions spent on lobbying, but I haven't seen any proposals that the US Patent & Trademark Office get more funding to weed out these spurious patents. Why hasn't some of that lobbying gone towards strengthening our ability to distinguish valid patents from junk?

Even as it's incredibly easier to search out prior art and obviousness, the claims that bad patents get granted have risen exponentially. But the value of genuinely new patents have risen, and that looks like the cause of blogposts such as this one.

Many advocates, such as this page, make it look like the concern is not bad patents, but good patents that are unfavorable to politically powerful companies.

Shady Shaheen said...

Thanks :)