Patent News

Feb. 17, 2015

IP Watchdog: Patent reformers resort to misrepresentations in WSJ op-ed, by Gene Quinn

This post originally appeared in IP Watchdog on February 17, 2015.

Earlier today the Wall Street Journal published Stopping the Economy-Sapping Patent Trolls, which is an op-ed written by John Chambers, who is chairman and CEO of Cisco, and Myron Ullman, who is the CEO of J.C. Penney. Whether you agree or disagree with the need for patent reform, everyone should be able to agree that this article includes information that is inaccurate. This is problematic because the high profile nature of the placement of this op-ed will no doubt sway opinions, possibly those who are decision makers in Congress.

Whether the Chambers/Ullman op-ed is intentionally inaccurate and thereby intentionally misleading is open to debate. What is not open to debate, however, is that this op-ed relies upon data that has been thoroughly and completely debunked. So why would the CEO of Cisco and the CEO of J.C. Penney build an argument supporting patent reform on a study that has been proved wrong? That is a very good question. Indeed, legitimate questions can and should be raised about whether these long-time supporters of patent reform are simply trying to use scare tactics and faulty data to mislead Congress into enacting another round of patent reform.

It is troubling that this op-ed relies on secret RPX data that cannot be independently reviewed and verified by anyone. Not only is it troubling because the data is secret, but because the data so significantly differs from publicly available data from other sources. But as problematic as that may be, it is inexcusable for Chambers and Ullman to rely on the study suggesting that patent trolls have cost industry $29 billion. That is simply not true.