Patent News

Dec. 17, 2014

CQ Roll Call Opinion: Fear-Mongering About Foreign Patent Trolls, by Louis J. Foreman

This post originally appeared in CQ Roll Call on December 17, 2014.

As was highlighted at the recent nomination hearing for Michelle Lee as the next director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office it is important to take a look at the patent landscape and the talk of more legislative action on our patent system under discussion in Congress.

I have been in the invention business my entire adult life. I have 10 patents of my own and have started nine successful companies. And as the CEO of Edison Nation, I work with hundreds of aspiring inventors to bring their ideas to market. The success of my companies and of the independent inventors we work with is based on a strong patent system that protects our inventions and creates investment incentives for financial partners.

But I’m concerned independent inventors, small businesses and the property protections we all depend on are about to become collateral damage as Congress once again tries to crack down on “patent trolls.” The popular definition of a patent troll as used in the congressional debate is a company that doesn’t make any products itself, but that owns patents and tries to make money by accusing other companies of infringement.

No one would ever intentionally call an inventor a “troll,” but the truth is that most inventors don’t manufacture the inventions they patent. Some don’t have the capital for manufacturing, while others don’t have the desire or expertise to run operating companies.