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September 15, 2015

Episode VII: The Patent Wars

Gangsters, rogues, and enough unsavory characters to fill a cantina

Patent Wars

No, JJ Abrams isn’t directing this movie, but it is filled with gangsters, rogues, and enough unsavory characters to fill a cantina.

On one side of the battle are innovators and entrepreneurs, who use the patent system to protect their intellectual property. They will go to court to defend their rights, but generally they want to make technology available at fair and reasonable prices to consumers.

One example is Cisco, who holds more than 10,000 U.S. patents and is a leader in the effort to reform the patent litigation system. They’ve joined with like-minded technology companies and main street businesses to advocate for common-sense patent reforms.

On the other side of the battle are patent assertion entities, aka patent trolls. These are individuals who use the patent system as a weapon, including against mom and pop stores. Patent trolls aren’t interested in the merits of the case, but use extortionary tactics to win cash settlements from businesses and individuals who don’t have the resources to fight them. Fear is their weapon, and they want the patent litigation system to stay just as it is.

The patent trolls ally in this are companies and institutions that benefit from high licensing fees and inflated valuations for patents. They, too, are comfortable with a status quo where an entire business model has formed based on scaring business into making quick settlements.

The patent troll business model needs to be upended. That’s why we need a patent litigation system that provides a level playing field for small businesses and large companies alike.

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