Law professors lobby for patent reform

A group of intellectual property law professors wrote a letter to Congress this week, expressing their support for patent reform.

The professors asked Congress to pass reforms that “will improve our nation’s patent system and accelerate the pace of innovation in our country.”

The group said it is concerned “that an increasing number of patent owners are taking advantage of weaknesses in the system to exploit their rights in ways that on net deter, rather than encourage, the development of new technology."

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The professors don’t throw their support behind any specific patent reform bills currently pending in Congress, such as the Innovation Act, authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), which recently passed the committee and is expected to head to the House floor next week.

Instead, the group outlines reforms that “will help reduce the cost of patent litigation and expose abusive practices without degrading inventors’ ability to protect genuine, valuable innovations.”

Those reforms include allowing tech companies to intervene when customers are facing infringement claims, limiting the burdens a company bringing an infringement case can impose on the company being sued, and requiring the losing party of a patent infringement case to pay the winning party’s legal fees in more cases “to discourage weak claims of patent infringement brought at least in part for nuisance value.”

The group also suggests updates that would require companies bringing infringement suits to be more specific with their infringement claims and more transparent about other entities with financial interest in their patents.

Finally, the group recommended that Congress consider legislation to address misleading demand letters, or the letters sent by companies that threaten a lawsuit in the hopes that recipients will pay licensing fees rather than go to court.

The professors note that they do not represent any business interests.

“Rather, we are motivated solely by our own convictions informed by years of study and research that the above proposals will on net advance the best interests of our country as a whole,” they wrote. 

“We urge you to enact them.”