The following post is from my Holland & Knight colleague Anthony Fuga.  Anthony regularly works with me defending retailers and their supply chains against patent infringement demands, and he is a period contributor to the Retail Patent Litigation Blog.  Also, please note that one of the articles Anthony discusses references RPX.  In the interest of transparency, we are panel counsel for the RPXIS insurance program that covers patent troll defense.

When speaking with retail clients, we often hear a repeated angst over patent trolls: patent lawsuits are a costly distraction from the actual business.  While cost and distraction remain at the forefront of complaints against patent trolls, there are other very real concerns: hampering innovation and investment in new companies.  And with these concerns come a multitude of proposed solutions.

Michael J. Meurer and James Bessen, both of Boston University School of Law, recently wrote an opinion piece in the Boston Globe titled “Congress needs to rein in patent trolls,” which touches on patent abuse concerns and calls for Congress to “move swiftly.”  Interestingly, Messrs. Meurer and Bessen discuss the expansion of patent trolls overseas, including government-sponsored patent trolls.  In their opinion, abuse of patent rights overseas has the potential to lead to a less talked about problem: international technology transfer. 

David Balto, an antitrust lawyer in Washington D.C., is also calling for Congress to revisit patent reform in his blog post “Smart patent reform needs to enable market solutions.”  As an antirust lawyer, Mr. Balto points to 1993 when Congress passed the National Cooperative Research and Production Act (NCRPA) to provide “limited antitrust exemption for joint ventures.”  Mr. Balto calls for Congress to provide a similar antitrust exemption now – but this time, for defensive patent pools.  This, in his opinion, would allow “patent owners to organize their rights and provide transparent licensing information.”

Regardless of the grievances and proposed solutions, it is clear that patent trolls and congressional patent reform remain topics of conversation.