The Wall Street Journal Letter: Remember What a Patent Is Supposed to Protect, by John H. Miller
This letter originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal on September 15, 2015.
Steve Malanga calls patents “dormant” when the invention claimed therein isn’t practiced by the patentee or patent owner (“States Move to Do-It-Yourself Patent Reform,” op-ed, Sept. 4). This is extremely misleading because patent law doesn’t give the patentee the right to use the claimed invention; doing so might infringe one or more other patents, violate law, etc. Instead, patent law gives the patentee the right to prevent others from exploiting the claimed invention.
Thus, when a patent is infringed, a proper use of the patent is to try to get the infringer to either agree to a license to use the claimed invention by paying royalties, or to sue to stop the infringer from infringing. Often, individual patentees or small-business owners of patents need the services of others to address infringers just like injured individuals need a law firm to help them recover damages. Big businesses and those who lobby for them attempt to disparage such service providers or investors by calling them a derogatory name: trolls.