Public Knowledge and Patent Reform

Earlier this week, Public Knowledge announced that we have hired Charles Duan to head up our new Patent Reform Project.  Charles is a computer scientist and former patent litigator who is currently working with my colleagues at the University of Colorado Law School analyzing next-generation Internet technologies and their impact on privacy, intellectual property and communications law.  He’ll be starting full time this summer and we’re excited to get started. 

It should come as no surprise that Public Knowledge is starting this new project.  Our mission is to ensure an open communications system that promotes creativity, innovation and freedom of expression.   Unfortunately, the current patent system is having the opposite effect.  There are many reasons for this, and they are well documented.  They include, for example, the grant of poor quality patents; abuses in the volume of claims and continuations; the rise of “non-practicing entities,” or patent “trolls”; and damage awards that far exceed the value of the patented invention.  Even though Congress passed a patent reform bill in 2010 - the “America Invents Act” - the problems with our patent system seem to be increasing, not decreasing.

PK will be working on patent policy in much the same way it works on copyright and telecom policy.   We’ll be working with other stakeholders to make the case for further patent reform.  We’ll be advocating in Congress, at the Patent and Trademark Office, at the White House, in the courts and elsewhere.  We’ll be commissioning research and developing simple messages to engage the press and the public in the debate.  We realize that patent policy is complex, technical and difficult to understand.  The good news is that 18 months ago, you could have said the same about copyright.  We want to demonstrate simply how patents affect people’s everyday lives.  We believe that this will motivate people to tell policymakers that it is time to make serious systemic changes to the way patents are granted and litigated. 

So stay tuned over the coming months as we roll out this very exciting new project!

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