October 2, 2013
There is a natural order, and it must be defended. So, as part of a concerted campaign by the Obama administration, Congress and the courts, to reserve profiting from patents to corporations, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) plans, using their subpoena power, to persecute "patent trolls": a deprecating term used to describe patent-holding companies which are not respected by the political establishment, as they nick their revenues from favored corporations. The FTC's investigation is intended to intimidate and drain the reserves of these patent-holding companies, so as to drive them out of business. Failing that, the FTC can apply further pressure by launching an antitrust enforcement effort.
This FTC campaign coincides with a long-running campaign to deny inventors their legal rights when they assert patents against large corporations. This campaign has been going on for the better part of a decade, but has recently intensified. Court bias towards corporations is ham-handedly handled by illicitly construing claims to favor corporate defendants, by ignoring evidence as well as the law, or, more simply, buying incorrect technical characterizations proffered by defendants. This makes it easy to find invalidity under the Obzilla regime (spawned by the Supreme Court in its 2007 KSR ruling) or non-infringement.
Covert corporate sycophants, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), favor the FTC's gestapo tactics. Daniel Nazer, a lawyer at EFF: "This will give regulators the ability to penetrate the shroud of secrecy that patent trolls operate behind."
Conversely, Patent attorney Ben Klosowski thinks the FTC witch hunt may have unintended consequences: "If the government wants to declare patents invalid based on who owns them, then inventors, who very often want to sell their patents, will quickly stop inventing because their market will come to a screeching halt." Klosowski is being melodramatic.
Small-time inventors are like small-time (retail) investors, in that they are slow to catch on to trends. Also, inventors are naturally optimists. They simply won't see their patenting as ending up in theft by a plutocratic court system.
Patent prosecution firms will continue to succor their revenues by downplaying the government campaign, and encouraging their eager inventive client base to fork over their hard-earned money. Tens of thousands of single-shingle and small prosecution firms nationwide rely upon the gullibility of their clientele to stay in business. They seldom bother to perform an adequate patentability search before charging their clients up to ten thousand dollars or more to prepare and file and application. Given reassuring patter, there is little reason to think that their business will be badly dented.
The USPTO has a vested interest in continuing its spurious patent grant scam, as it relies upon allowance and maintenance fees to support itself. Defective examination proves expensive to defendants facing assertion of rum patents, but that is not the patent office's concern. With the "America Invents Act," mega-corporate lobbying resulted in recently changing the law to favor easier reexamination, thus lessening the cost of PTO incompetence, while handing the patent office a ready source of more fees.
As well as intimidating existing patent-holding firms, the FTC effort may deter new investors from entering the patent trolling arena. Anything the government can do to keep power and wealth concentrated helps maintain the prosperity and vibrant economy that we have all enjoyed in recent years.
Posted by Patent Hawk at October 2, 2013 2:27 PM | The Patent System