Members of the Internet infrastructure industry are keenly aware of the devastating effects caused by Patent Assertion Entities, commonly referred to as patent trolls. These trolls unfairly target legitimate businesses with their baseless lawsuits and exploit vague business patents that hurt a broad spectrum of companies. The impacts have both short and long term economic consequences and have cost companies $29 billion in resources and revenue in 2011 alone.
Unfortunately, the issues caused by patent trolls aren’t going away anytime soon and are actually increasing. New research from Patent Freedom shows that patent trolling is on the rise. In 2013, patent trolls sued 11 percent more companies and filed 18 percent more lawsuits than in 2012. Furthermore, lawsuits filed by patent trolls accounted for a majority (52 percent) of all patent-related lawsuits in 2013.
In a recent post on the Washington Post’s The Switch, James Bessen details the findings from Patent Freedom, pointing to two other topical studies showing similar results. The White House released a report [PDF] in June 2013 illustrating the increase in lawsuits at the hands of patent trolls. Additionally, research from the Government Accountability Office in August shows similar results. Individually and collectively all of these studies underscore the need for permanent legislative reform.
The i2Coalition has long held the position that a legislative solution is needed in Congress to permanently fix the abuses of the patent system. Fortunately, leaders in Washington are beginning to understand the economic consequences from patent abuse and are offering solid steps towards addressing the problem with legislation like The Innovation Act of 2013. President Obama recently briefly addressed the need for reform in the State of the Union address. However, stronger action is needed by both the President and Congress to work together with members of the business community to solve this chronic problem.
The only thing patent trolls create is problems for legitimate businesses and stifle innovation. Patent trolls are a clear danger to many industries. If you share our passion for the Internet, learn more about joining us in our efforts to fight patent trolls by becoming a member today.