As Congress returns this week, intellectual property reform will likely be high on the agenda of the Judiciary committee’s new Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet. Patent mayhem has not abated during the hiatus in reform efforts. The unprecedented litigation foodfight in the smartphone marketplace, for example, continues to grow, with Sony filing ITC claims against LG. …
Patent law requires a robust and balanced approach, combining protection for patentees with a high-quality examination system designed to produce clear and unambiguous patents. The patent system must continue to promote innovation by existing companies, while also allowing the next generation of inventors to build new products and services without facing an undue risk of frivolous lawsuits. These costly lawsuits, fueled by low-quality patents, allow patent assertion entities (PAEs) to drain productive businesses of $29 billion a year in legal costs according to a Bessen and Meurer study, pressuring job-creating enterprises into choosing between settling unmeritorious claims out of court, or facing bankruptcy.
Reforms in recent years, including legislative reforms like the introduction of AIA post-grant proceedings and judicial decisions such as Alice and TC Heartland, have helped to reduce the proliferation of PAEs and the cost of litigation, while also improving the quality of patents issued by the Patent Office. However, even with these helpful reforms, the cost and frequency of patent litigation remains high, with PAEs using existing low-quality patents targeting companies across all sectors of the economy, ranging from high-tech businesses to restaurants to retailers and coffee shops.
CCIA supports real patent reforms that include an end to abusive patent litigation and measures to promote high-quality patents. Specific solutions include:
- Patent reform legislation, including measures to limit abusive litigation by PAEs and protect end users;
- Continued enhancements to the inter partes review process, which provides a mechanism for the Patent Office to review patents that should not have issued;
- Patent quality improvements in the USPTO examination process to encourage high-quality, clear patents, and reduce ambiguous patents with overly broad claims.
CCIA opposes some proposed reforms which would roll back the reforms that have had a positive impact on the patent system, such as measures to expand patentable subject matter and limit the inter partes review process.
CCIA writes about current patent issues at its blog Patent Progress.