Setting the Record Straight on Patent Reform


I’ve been involved in the debate about patent reform for a long time, and I’m thrilled to see that we are close to finally passing real legislation that will combat the patent troll problem. A Senate compromise is imminent, and we cannot let those who benefit financially from a broken system derail these efforts. Now is the time for real reform to curb the impact of patent trolls on America’s startups and our economy.

The widely reported Schumer-Cornyn compromise would provide a clear path forward against behavior that costs small businesses and the U.S. economy at least $29 billion a year (or more) in lost capital. These shadowy entities make nothing, provide no benefit to the wider economy, and do not advance America’s innovative, entrepreneurial spirit.

Claims that the current Senate compromise would gut the ability of “small inventors” to assert their rights as patent holders lack a fundamental basis in fact, but they are being levied loudly and distractingly by groups backed by large-scale assertion entities and multinational corporations with large patent portfolios. To be clear, there is nothing in the current proposal that would stop a legitimate patent holder from bringing a meritorious case for infringement. More than 6,000 patent holders and allies agreed by signing a letter; making it harder to patent owners to assert their legitimate claims for infringement is counterintuitive and not something our organization would fight for. Assertions to the contrary, made by those seeking to retain their rights to make offensive use of their patent portfolios, are wholly without merit.

Let there be no doubt: the startup community needs real patent reform. As a whole, it endorses the kind of strong reforms found in the Schumer-Cornyn compromise. Small, innovative startups bear the brunt of the patent trolling trend.Those startups who are targeted often have less than $10 million in revenues, and they are in no position to hire a patent lawyer to understand the scope of the threat they face — let alone pay the millions of dollars it would cost to take case to court. Even worse, startups are too often short on talent, so they do not have the luxury of using their current employees to read and understand vague patents with “fuzzy boundaries”.

We are asking the United States Senate to seize this opportunity. Let’s make this the week we beat back patent trolling. We are looking at serious, well-ordered compromise legislation -- worked out tirelessly by staff and Senators. We urge you to pass it on to the President, and let American innovation continue to lead the charge in rebuilding our economy.