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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.
To learn more, check out the following:
Here is an op-ed from PK's patent reform expert, Charles Duan, on patent trolls.
Here is a fictional essay from Charles Duan examining how bad patents get issued.
Charles also submitted 16 lines of computer code to the U.S. Patent Office to simplify patent language.
Here are the PK experts on this issue: