Patent News

Mar. 10, 2015

Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property: CPIP Senior Scholars Join 40 Economists and Law Professors in Letter Expressing Concerns About Data Behind Patent “Reform”

This post originally appeared in GMU’s Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property blog on March 10, 2015.

In a letter to Congress today, 40 law professors and economists expressed serious concerns that Congress is considering restructuring the US patent system based on many flawed, unreliable, and unrepresentative studies of patent litigation.

The letter also points to a substantial body of research that questions much of the rhetoric behind the attack on “patent trolls.”

The scholars point out that certain studies cited by legislators and media have been roundly criticized. The letter particularly notes as flawed the claims that patent trolls bring the majority of patent lawsuits and that they cost U.S. businesses $29 billion a year in direct costs.

At a minimum, the fact that patent lawsuit filings actually decreased in 2014, including a substantial decrease in lawsuits brought by patent licensing companies, calls into question much of the rhetoric surrounding the need for further patent “reform” following passage of the America Invents Act (AIA) in 2011.

According to the letter, “those bent on attacking ‘trolls’ have engendered an alarmist reaction that threatens to gut the patent system as it existed in the Twentieth Century, a period of tremendous innovation and economic growth.” Instead of targeted reforms, many of the broad changes under consideration raise serious concerns about potential unintended consequences for American economic growth.

It is even more alarming that these wide-ranging proposals are driven by unreliable studies and data. “We are very concerned that reliance on flawed data will lead to legislation that goes well beyond what is needed to curb abusive litigation practices, causing unintended negative consequences for inventors, small businesses, and emerging entrepreneurs,” the letter states.

The main takeaway: before enacting patent legislation, Congress should demand reliable data on the state of the American patent system and should proceed with caution to ensure balanced, targeted legislation.

The letter is available here.

The 40 signatories included five CPIP Senior Scholars.