On Monday, a group of some 60 law school professors from across the country formally joined the debate on the perceived abuses by Patent Assertion Entities (“PAEs”), or so-called patent trolls.
The Professors signed a letter to Congress that decries “abusive patent enforcement” by trolls. The result of these litigations, according to the Professors, is the diversion of billions of dollars from employee hiring and retention and product development to “wasteful litigation.” Accordingly, the Professors urged six general reforms:
- increasing the frequency of attorney’s fee awards to accused patent infringers who litigate and prevail, rather than settle;
- limiting the scope of discovery prior to the issuance of a claim construction order;
- staying lawsuits filed against parties that sell or use allegedly infringing technology until after the conclusion of parallel litigation between the patentee and the technology’s manufacturer;
- requiring greater specificity in pleading infringement;
- requiring that patentees disclose and regularly update the identity of parties with an ownership stake or other direct financial interest in their patent rights; and
- that Congress consider additional legislation designed to deter fraudulent, misleading, or otherwise abusive patent licensing demands made outside of court.
Gibbons will continue to monitor and report developments in this area.