Opinions and Editorials

Aug. 15, 2023

Newsweek: Big Tech Is Abusing the U.S. Patent System. Time for Congress To Step In by Steve Forbes

Our Founding Fathers had the foresight to include in the Constitution a clause granting inventors the “exclusive right” to their inventions. This clause, embodied in our patent system, has created a powerful incentive for risk-taking among American inventors and those who fund them. By adding the “fuel of interest to the fire of genius,” to quote Abraham Lincoln, patents have been one of the most important factors driving innovation and economic strength throughout our nation’s history.

Unfortunately, that incentive structure is being undermined by a little-known government body, the quasi-judicial Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), within the U.S. Patent Office. The PTAB, which was created by Congress as part of the 2011 America Invents Act, consists of a panel of unelected “judges”—read “bureaucrats”—who hear cases challenging the validity of patents in dispute.

Although the PTAB was intended to provide a low-cost alternative to district court litigation for resolving patent cases, it has instead become a tool for large companies, including many Big Tech giants, to attack the patents of smaller innovators, so they can use their inventions without paying licensing fees. Since the PTAB’s inception, these big companies have filed thousands of petitions challenging the patents of upstart rivals.

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