The steady rise in patent litigation in the United States has captured the attention of Congress, which currently has several bills regarding patent reform active in various stages of the legislative process. On December 5, 2013, the first major patent reform bill of this year, Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s Innovation Act, passed the House by a vote of 325-91 on the strength of bipartisan unity.
Patent litigation has become an enormous industry impacting companies of all sizes, from independent coffee houses to multinational technology firms. In 2012 alone, there were 5,189 patent suits filed, which was a 29% increase from the previous year. Over half of all patent suits are brought by corporations created solely for the purpose of enforcing patent rights, formally called “nonpracticing entities” (NPEs) or “patent assertion entities” (PAEs) but colloquially referred to as “patent trolls.” Over 70% of patents now being asserted are acquired patents, that is, the patents are not being asserted by the inventor(s) or original owner, compared to 10 years ago, when only 30% of asserted patents were acquired.
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