Patent Reform Is Dead; Patent Trolls Win

from the dead-dead-dead dept

As we predicted on Monday, it appears that patent trolls have won this round. Senator Patrick Leahy has announced that he's pulling patent reform from the agenda because there wasn't "sufficient support behind any comprehensive deal." That's bullshit. There is widespread consensus support on how to fix the problem of patent trolls. The problem is that patent trolls and organizations that abuse the patent system to prey on innovators don't like the solutions that are out there. And they started lobbying hard, so patent reform is dead. That is, rather than do the right thing and step up to fix the broken patent system, Leahy and others in the Senate caved in to lobbyists from patent abusing entities (not just trolls). Of course, we went through this same thing in 2004 through 2011 with the last attempt at fixing the patent system, and the end result there was useless.

One of these days, it would be nice if Congress actually took real leadership and did what was right, rather than worrying how some abusive companies will react.
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Filed Under: lobbying, patent reform, patent trolls, patents, senator patrick leahy

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  1. identicon
    John Thacker, 21 May 2014 @ 2:34pm

    The problem is that patent trolls and organizations that abuse the patent system to prey on innovators don't like the solutions that are out there. And they started lobbying hard, so patent reform is dead.

    To be fair, the bigger problem is that are also organizations that don't abuse the patent system, but have patents, but fear that any solutions that stop the trolls will also hurt them a little bit. Since it can be sometimes difficult to distinguish between trolls and abusive use of patents from more legitimate users, laws restricting patent trolls will likely hurt the revenue somewhat of groups that even most of us agree aren't trolls, like universities, which opposed this bill (Though some of us are suspicious of universities and how they use patents). And they aren't willing to take a hit for the good of everyone else in stopping the trolls.

    If it were just trolls and abusers opposing this law, it wouldn't have been killed. What killed it is that pretty legitimate patent holders that do real research, like universities, opposed it, out of fear for their own revenue, and not caring enough about everyone else's problems that the trolls cause, even if the universities aren't trolls themselves.

    That's a common problem in politics. Sometimes when you take action against Type I errors, you create more Type II errors. Often the balance in taking correction action is worth it (like I think this bill would have been)-- but you can't expect the people who are harmed by Type II errors but not Type I errors not to complain. (In a completely different field, imagine the tradeoffs in civil liberties that sometimes mean a choice between letting more murders and rapists go free, or convicting more innocent people.)

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