GAO Report: Looking For the Real Troll: The findings of a US government study into NPEs took aim at the USPTO, software patents and the courts that enforce them, not NPEs themselves


As a tidal wave of attention and criticism, from legislative, judicial, and national press sources, continued to be heaped on‘non-practising entities’ (NPEs), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently tossed out a life preserver, in the form of its study on the consequences of patent litigation by NPEs. This long-anticipated report was expected to be the latest salvo in a relentless attack against NPE activities, but instead was a more muted assessment of the damage being done by NPE patent litigation.

While patent litigation is certainly trending higher, the GAO report found that NPEs were only a part of the problem. The majority of the blame for any uptick in litigation, per the report, should be centred on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) (for issuing bad patents), the US court system (for issuing overly large damage awards), and even simple capitalistic instinct (which has sniffed out the high value of patents). But, the GAO report also praises the USPTO and courts for recently implementing significant changes that, at the least, hold great promise...

Originally published in Intellectual Property Magazine - November 2013.

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