RMIUG Meeting: Tues, Nov 8 – Patent Trolls: Evil or Necessary Evil?


Patent trolls, a derogatory term coined by Peter Detkin, a former general counsel at Intel in 2001, refers to a person or company that enforces its patents against one or more alleged infringers in a manner considered by the target or observers as a legal tactic divorced from any effort by the patentee to gain traction for the patented product in the marketplace. The neutral term for patent troll is a non-practicing entity (NPE), which is likely preferred by Peter Detkin now since he works for Intellectual Ventures.

The patent system was invented to avoid the use of trade secrets that can keep technology protected forever. A bargain was made–in exchange for full disclosure of an invention, the patentee enjoys a government-sanctioned monopoly for 20 years. That deal speeds innovation through cross-pollination between competitors’ trade secrets so that you can design-around or add further innovation to a product. The patent system forces collaboration in a manner seen so important to the Founders that it is part of our Constitution. Being so fundamental to our Country, patents are unlikely to go away, but perhaps a better bargain can be [...]