For trolls, who in lawsuits often try to stretch broad definitions and descriptions as much as possible, this a setback because the Supreme Court essentially raises the standard for a judgment of infringement beyond mere ambiguity, and will force plaintiffs to be more specific about the definitions and functions of a product of device to make an infringement charge stick.
As these and other court decisions add up, the attractiveness of the U.S. as a venue for patent trolling suits may diminish.
At the same time, the White House can be more assertive in condemning state-sponsored patent pooling. The practice is questionable under current trade agreements, as it involves governments taking an ownership stake in commercial intellectual property. This creates a conflict of interest when the regulator has an interest in the jurisdiction over which it presides. The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office and the Department of Commerce need to be more vigilant in protesting these practices.
Legislation may be on hold for now, but that doesn’t mean pressure for patent law reform should stop. Otherwise trolls will continue to abuse weaknesses in patent law and be a drain on domestic and international economic growth.
Steven Titch is an independent policy analyst. He is the former managing editor of InfoTech & Telecom News and was a technology and telecommunications journalist for more than two decades.