Patent News

Apr. 2, 2015

The Daily Caller Opinion: Patent Reform Bill Is The Law According To Google, by Erik Telford

This post originally appeared in The Daily Caller on April 2, 2015.

If claims that an economic problem can be fixed by a new law sound too good to be true, they probably are. Such is the case in Congress’ latest push for patent reform.

It sounds good on the surface. Targeting so-called “patent trolls” and combating supposed out of control litigation – companies that file patents for the purpose of launching frivolous litigation against anyone that even remotely appears to be violating them – would seem like an opportunity to better protect legitimate businesses and our economy’s innovators. President Obama has called patent reform one of the “biggest problems” that his administration is trying to tackle (by their leadership on other issues, that unfortunately, seems accurate), and both the House and Senate have introduced legislation aimed at curbing the practice.

A recent letter to Congress from a group of 40 top economists and academics, however, calls all of those assumptions into question. It shows how “unreliable studies” about how much abusive patent lawsuits cost businesses have drawn undue attention by making “highly exaggerated” claims. Contrary to what proponents of reform have claimed, it is simply false that that there is a patent litigation crisis that calls for a revamp of the whole system. The latest and most accurate studies show that the problem has been on the decline over the past year.

“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 in its conclusion.

These experts aren’t the only ones wizening up. Intellectual Asset Management Magazine ran an article that found a clear trend that the rate of patent litigation is declining, and a number of conservative critics spoke out against the House bill over concerns that it will weaken intellectual property protections.