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The patent system is intended to reward inventors and incentivize invention, bringing new technologies to consumers. Patents are intended to be granted for the benefit of the public. Unfortunately, today we see a patent system that has forgotten this fundamental principle.
Developments in the standards for patent quality have made it remarkably easy for patent owners to assert vague, questionable patents against software developers, small businesses, and even true inventors. When the law permits such abusive practices in litigation, businesses can take advantage of this. “Patent trolls” exist primarily to buy patents cheaply and then threaten as many people as possible.
Because the cost of litigation is so high, those accused of patent infringement are forced to pay the patent owners not based on the merits of the patent but rather to avoid expensive litigation that would run their companies into the ground. Typically, abusive practice by patent trolls target innovators and small businesses. Therefore, the system now has the opposite effect it intended; it stifles innovation and hurts consumers.
Public Knowledge is working to reform patent law in order to enhance patent quality, reduce litigation, and make the patent system fair and balanced for the sake of innovation.
In November 2013, Charles Duan, PK’s Director of the Patent Reform project, testified to Congress on the impact of patent trolls.
Charles also wrote an op-ed on the topic, published in the Los Angeles Times in August 2013.
Charles also submitted 16 lines of computer code to the U.S. Patent Office to simplify patent language.