Patent News

Nov. 10, 2014

Intellectual Asset Management: Patent reform’s go-to professors are either totally incompetent or deliberately misleading people, by Joff Wild

This article originally appeared in Intellectual Asset Management on November 10, 2014.

An article written by James Bessen and Michael Meuer, and published last week in the Boston Globe, raises serious questions about the pair’s credibility as participants in the on-going debate about patent reform in the United States. Claims made in the article by the two Boston University professors, whose work has been cited and at least partially funded by supporters of fundamental change, are so inaccurate that it is hard to conclude other than that they have either deliberately misrepresented basic facts or are unable to conduct even cursory research before committing pen to paper.

In the article, published on 5th November, Bessen and Meurer claim that France Brevets, the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) and Taiwan’s Industrial Technology and Research Institute (ITRI) are all what they term “government-sponsored patent trolls”, which “are frequently active in US courts”. As discussed yesterday on this blog, in the article the pair define trolls as “firms with no interest in innovation or technology transfer; they hold patents to assert them against innocent businesses to extract some of the profit from genuine innovators”. This represents a fundamental change to their previous definition. They also accuse trolls of using “deceptive and unfair assertion tactics”. The US’s trading partners, they state, must “play by the rules”. The problem is that just about everything that Bessen and Meurer say about France Brevets, the INCJ and ITRI is demonstrably untrue.

Let’s start with the European entity – at least its name is translated correctly. But it all goes downhill from there. Set up in March 2011, France Brevets works with organisations that have a link to France in order to help them to license their portfolios, as well as to provide them with freedom to operate. It works closely and in partnership with French SMEs and has brought two actions in the US in three years – one against LG and the other against HTC. The case with LG was settled in August. France Brevets has sued one American company in three years, in Germany. Clearly, it is not a frequent litigator anywhere.