28 July 2016

15% of U.S. Tech Patent Litigation Due To Patent Troll Enforcement Of Three Dubious Patents

Last month I noted that 60% of U.S. patent suits are brought against anonymous downloaders, with 40% of the total brought by a single porn company.

Also notable is the fact that a court has determined that the song "Happy Birthday" which has been the subject of nearly a century of copyright enforcement action, has actually been in the public domain all along.

Similarly dubious is the use of copyright law to charge people for access to sources that constitute legal authority that ignorance is no excuse for not knowing.

A similar situation exists in U.S. patent litigation:
Shipping & Transit's patent on bus-tracking (the basis of 500+ lawsuits, most against cities' transit authorities); Uniloc's patent on DRM; and Sportbrain Holdings' patent on wearable health monitors. Collectively, these patents account for 15% of all of America's tech patent litigation.
In suits to enforce patents that go to trial, about half of the patents are found to be invalid, notwithstanding the fact that the patents are presumptively valid and have undergone expert review of the validity on the merits in the ex parte Patent and Trademark Office patent prosecution process which rejects significant share of all patent applications, particularly for patents related to business services.

This empirical data about how intellectual property laws are actually used in practice in the U.S. casts real doubt on the largely theoretical and ideologically driven arguments that our intellectual property law regime is good for the economy.

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