Feeds

Scores of profs give hated US patent law an F minus, demand massive rewrite

What's wrong with the rules? How long have you got...

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A group of 60 or so US law professors have publicly backed an effort to overhaul the US patent system.

The brainy gang, who signed a letter published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, asks lawmakers to step up efforts to reform patent law and the system for which patent holders can file suit for allegations of infringement.

In the letter [PDF], the professors argue that the patent litigation system is in need of an overhaul in order to halt the endless legal battles, particularly those launched by a new class of firms known as patent assertion entities (PAEs) – more commonly known by the moniker "patent trolls."

The professors argue that the high costs of defending infringement cases are being exploited by the PAEs to strong-arm smaller companies into agreeing to patent licensing deals.

"Because PAEs do not make or sell any products of their own, they cannot be countersued for infringement. As a result, PAEs can use the high cost of patent litigation to their advantage," the letter explains.

"They can sue, threaten to impose large discovery costs that overwhelmingly fall on the accused infringer, and thereby extract settlements from their targets that primarily reflect a desire to avoid the cost of fighting, rather than the chance and consequences of actually losing the suit."

The academics go on to argue that in order to help protect companies from being overwhelmed by patent infringement claims, reforms need to be introduced to cover matters such as penalizing frivolous infringement suits, lowering the cost of defending against suits, and requiring plaintiffs to be more specific in filing their infringement claims.

"In short, high litigation costs and a widespread lack of transparency in the patent system together make abusive patent enforcement a common occurrence both in and outside the technology sector," the letter reads.

"As a result, billions of dollars that might otherwise be used to hire and retain employees, to improve existing products, and to launch new products are, instead, diverted to socially wasteful litigation."

Among the signees are professors from the Stanford, Notre Dame, Denver, and New York University schools of law, as well as a number of additional law schools throughout the US.

The effort is part of an ongoing campaign to bring an overhaul to the US patent system. Business owners and entrepreneurs have been particularly vocal in stating the need for reform, as well as user rights advocates.

Currently, the US House of Representatives is looking to address the matter with the Innovation Act, a bill that could curb the abuse of patent laws and help to provide firms with relief against patent infringement claims. ®

Business security measures using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.