Last week, I wrote about the findings in an article from Boston University analyzing some excellent and thought-provoking data from RPX and the Coalition for Patent Fairness.  I also looked at takeaways for retailers.  While the data identifies some interesting trends, the most valuable role of the article is acting as a wake up call about the massive scope and looming importance of the troll problem.  The authors suggest the following reforms (all quotes, but broken into bullets for convenience):

  • The top priority is reform of the patent system to improve notice; this kind of reform will make the patent system perform more like an idealized property system (Bessen and Meurer, 2008; FTC, 2011).
  • More rigorous enforcement of the claim definiteness standard would be an excellent step forward.
  • Likewise, we favor rigorous implementation of recent Supreme Court decisions [Bilski] restricting the patentability of business methods and other abstract processes that are difficult to propertize.
  • It is also crucial to provide greater transparency in the patent system.  Feldman and Ewing (2012) document the remarkable opaqueness of Intellectual Ventures in connection to its patent ownership and patent assertion.  Finally, courts should rigorously supervise patent damages awards to make sure that damages are proportionate to the value of the patented technology (Lemley and Shapiro, 2007).
  • One promising policy reform is greater use of fee-shifting to favor defendants in cases brought by trolls.
  • Hopefully, the article helps to move bills like the SHIELD Act through Congress, and to generate even more and further reaching reforms.