Why Patent Trolls Will Laugh in the Face of the Government’s Attempts to Fight Them

Jay Carney said Tuesday that the Obama administration is taking action to limit frivolous patent lawsuits, or "patent trolling." Jay Carney said Tuesday that the Obama administration is taking action to limit frivolous patent lawsuits, or "patent trolling." Evan Vucci/AP

The White House Tuesday introduced an executive order intended to combat “patent trolling,” in which companies buy up patents and use them to sue “infringing” companies that actually make things. Patent trolling is essentially a tax on innovation, and tech giants like Google hate it so much that they partner with other tech giants to create portfolios of patents they use solely to defend themselvesagainst patent trolls.

The Obama administration’s efforts to combat patent trolling are admirable, but, contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, largely symbolic. To understand why, let’s first rewind the clock to 2011, when Congress passed the America Invents Act (AIA), another admirable but ill-fated attempt to combat patent trolls. As I wrote at the time, the act didn’t address the core problems with the US patent system, namely that it’s under-funded, under-staffed, and has a backlog of at least 700,000 unexamined patents. Obama’s executive order doesn’t address these issues, either.

But what about the provisions in the AIA and today’s executive order, which are designed to at least nibble at the edges of patent trolling? With the results of the AIA as our guide, we can see that history is not on the side of innovation. One provision of the AIA about which I had been hopeful was designed to prevent patent trolls from suing whole gobs of companies at once over the same patent—a machine-gun approach to legal action that is relatively easy to initiate and virtually guarantees that at least some companies (usually those least able to fight a suit) will settle out of court. The AIA makes this, in theory, much harder to do.

Read more at Quartz.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.