Patent Data Missing In Troll Debate - InformationWeek
Government // Open Government
01:25 PM

Patent Data Missing In Troll Debate

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.

Read the rest of this story on EE Times.

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

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User Rank: Author
3/13/2014 | 12:13:35 PM
Re: White House Report on Patent Trolls
Rick, Thanks for drawing the connection between the White House report and RPX figures. I don't believe that was made clear in the report.
rick merritt
rick merritt,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/13/2014 | 6:59:11 AM
Re: White House Report on Patent Trolls
@WKash: Yes thanks for mentioning the interesting White House report.

I wrote a story on those findings last year. See

An interesting thing to note in the report is that the key stats the White House quotes were collected by RPX Corp., a startup selling patent licensing services to big companies fighting suits from "trolls." So essentially the White House is siding here with the Silicon Valley giants such as Intel, HP and etc. using their data.
Charlie Babcock
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
3/12/2014 | 5:38:34 PM
Patent trolls harmless?
I would question whether the patent trolls are harmless, or is there just too little data for the harm they're doing to show up.
User Rank: Author
3/12/2014 | 2:32:51 PM
White House Report on Patent Trolls
The White House President's Council of Economic Advisers recently released a report that, while no doubt self serving, nevertheless pulls together some useful and telling information about the impact of patent trolls. It's worth reading before concluding that maybe there isn't a problem. There is.

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