The Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling against patent trolls in June, and while few would oppose this sort of ban, some companies fear that it might stifle innovation.
As a result, top technology and pharmaceutical companies have teamed up to form a public advocacy group, the Partnership for American Innovation (PAI), in order to protect software patents. The partnership includes Apple, DuPont, Ford, GE, IBM, Microsoft and Pfizer.
(Related: White House unveils protection measures against patent trolls)
“Despite their differences, all of these companies are unified because they depend on America’s world-leading patent system to safeguard their investments,” according to the partnership’s website.
Patent trolls are businesses that hold patents but never do anything with them, merely using them to win cash awards in patent violation lawsuits. This forces company legitimately looking to create new works to either abandon their efforts or completely rework them, slowing down the process.
Companies such as LinkedIn, Netflix, Twitter and Yelp argue that patents aren’t necessary to drive innovation in software development. The companies even filed a brief in the Supreme Court’s software patent case arguing their side.
But the PAI believes that patents are essential to America’s high-tech leadership position in the world. They state that the patent system contributes US$5 trillion to the economy and is responsible for more than 40 million jobs in America.
“As director of the USPTO, I saw firsthand the significant role the patent system plays in encouraging inventors, promoting investment in innovation, and creating jobs,” said David Kappos, former U.S. Patent Trademark Office (USPTO) director and senior advisor to the PAI. “Now is not the time to gamble with America’s innovation engine. Once patent protections are eliminated, they cannot be restored.”
The members of the PAI are committed to the following principles:
• “The American economy is best served by a strong patent system that protects high-quality innovation in all fields of technology.”
• “It is critical to our global economy that IP is respected by all participants in the system.”
• “The USPTO must be properly funded to efficiently and effectively process patent applications and issue only high-quality patents.”
“It is in our country’s best interest to have a patent system that rises above short-term interests, and creates long-term gains for all sectors of the economy,” said Kappos. “We must move beyond rhetoric that the system is broken and trolls are bringing businesses to a complete halt to a discussion of calibrated improvements for what is actually the best patent system our planet has.”