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Inventors have to make substantial investments to bring their novel ideas to fruition. In order to recover the cost of this investment, inventors need to have freedom to the fix any price for the invented product. If others were allowed to make the same product, they could easily undercut this price, thereby discouraging invention or encouraging the inventor to keep his knowledge a secret. More importantly, the public would lose the benefit of this knowledge.
The patent system prevents this by rewarding the disclosure of knowledge with a patent—a temporary monopoly granted by law to an inventor. The ultimate purpose of the patent system is to benefit the public through the advancement of science.
Public Knowledge’s Position
Although the patent system has generally encouraged innovation, the current patent system is riddled with a number of problems: low quality patents in key areas, increased and expensive litigation, and a system ill-suited for key industries (in the IT industry, for example, a single product can contain an endless number of patented technologies).
Public Knowledge believes that flaws in the patent system discourage and hold back innovation and that patent holders are abusing these flaws for anticompetitive gain. Patent reform is necessary to enhance patent quality, reduce litigation and make the patent system fair and balanced.
We believe that the following changes to the law will enhance patent quality:
- Raising the standard from determination of obviousness from the person having "ordinary skill" in the art to a person having "recognized skill" in the art.
- Peer review of patent applications.
- Permitting third parties to submit prior art, and rewarding them with fee reimbursement if successful.
- Permitting post-grant review of patents by the USPTO prior to litigation.
We also believe that the following litigation reforms will reduce the cost of litigation and restore some balance in the system:
- Removing the presumption of validity that issued patents enjoy.
- Apportioning damages to be proportional to the value of the patent.
- Allowing circuit courts other than the Federal Circuit to hear patent appeals.
- Limiting litigation venues to those jurisdictions with a meaningful connection to one of the litigants.
What you can do to help
- Are you an expert in your field? Participate in this USPTO project called Peer-to-Patent that opens the patent examination process to public participation.
- Subscribe to our email list for updates on hot issues and events.
- Donate to Public Knowledge to help us keep our doors open.
- Give policy makers a piece of your mind: act now.
For More Information
- Check out New York Law School's Center for Patent Innovations
- Read the FTC's Report To Promote Innovation: The Proper Balance of Competition and Patent Law and Policy [PDF]