Congress and the Supreme Court are poised to take action on patent suits, but data to inform ongoing debates is missing, experts say.
This is the first of a series of ongoing stories exploring the current debate about the US patent system.
While the US Congress debates legislation aimed at addressing a troubling increase in patent infringement suits from so-called trolls, experts are debating whether the rise even exists or should trouble anyone.
A handful of studies and papers say patent cases are not rising significantly. The non-practicing entities (NPEs) that assert patents but do not make products are not playing a destructive role, they argue. However, some experts say more data still needs to be collected.
"Right now it's like the fear of the unknown -- we actually don't know that much about patents despite a large amount of study," says Daniel F. Spulber, research director of Northwestern University's Searle Center on Law, which received a $2 million grant from Qualcomm that's funding a five-year research project.
The program is focusing on so-called "standards-essential" patents from the top three of an estimated 700 standards organizations that release thousands of technical standards a year. "What I hope to do is create as comprehensive a database as is feasible. Then empirically analyze the standards and organizations and make that data available for free to academic researchers," says Spulber.
Based in San Jose, Rick writes news and analysis about the electronics industry and the engineering profession for EE Times. He is the editor of the Android, Internet of Things, Wireless/Networking, and Medical Designlines. He joined EE Times in 1992 as a Hong Kong based ... View Full Bio