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Entrepreneurs to Congress: It's Time To Stamp Out Patent Trolls

Entrepreneurs including Mark Cuban and Alexis Ohanian asked legislators to stop patent trolls from stifling innovation.

On Wednesday, more than 60 innovators, investors and entrepreneurs asked Congress to help stamp out patent trolls, or non-practicing entities who target startups for lawsuits.

The group, which includes Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and well-known entrepreneur Mark Cuban, sent a letter to Congress arguing patent trolls are stifling innovation.
"Congress should consider measures that shift incentives away from those who game the system and toward an innovative economy and competitive market," it read.

"We have a shameful situation in this country, with patents and patent litigation hurting both competition and innovation," Cuban said in a statement. "That's bad for both consumers and small businesses. The time for Congress to act is now."

Do you think Congress should act to control patent trolls? How would you do it? Tell us in the comments.

[Image courtesy of flickr user Linus Nyström]

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  • Josh Davis

    I think the first question that needs to be asked is; how is the patenting ecosystem harming innovation and the betterment of mankind?  Once we all agree on the answer to this question, then we can quit calling each other names and get to the solutions..

  • Hag

    no. There are two ways to protect IP: trade secret or patent. Patent is a deal to teach others how to make the thing, in exchange for exclusive rights for a limited time. The result is to promote the progress, as the constitution says. Everybody learns who to do it, and can take it from there, intellectually.  Like democracy, the alternative is worse. Trade secrets do much more to "stifle innovation" than patents. Imagine how much faster progress in the search engine field would go, for instance, if Google were to publish its methods as patents rather than maintaining aggressive secrecy, so everybody else has to go out and try to reinvent the wheel. Sure, they'd have to pay to use the results, but it would cost less than the reinvention.

  • Guest

    Maybe in an ideal world.  In reality, most patents don't represent innovations; instead, people patent broad classes of ideas that they have no idea how to implement, then wait for someone to do the hard work and sue for a share in the profits.

    Let's say I come up with a cool idea, like 3D video chat over a cell phone.  I can go out right now and patent the idea (without having any idea how this could actually be implemented), wait for someone to come up with the technology, and then sue for violating my patent.  And since this is a lot easier and more profitable than actually innovating, this is the main thing the patent system is used for nowadays.

  • Hag

     The problem with your thinking is "I can go out right now and patent the idea (without having any idea how this could actually be implemented)" Which is false. You would not be able to get a patent unless your patent application were a "constructive reduction to practice" meaning that "a person of average skill in the art" (another patent term of art) could take your disclosure on on that basis alone, and with sufficient resources, actually build the thing. It's called "enablement" (yet another term you should clearly know the meaning of if you want to talk knowledgeably about patents). A lot of people have thought for a long time about what it means to have "invented" something, and yes there are controversies and if there weren't there would be no need of a court system. But the foundations are well established and generally pretty brilliant, as you learn when you learn about it.