Surely We Can Find a Better Use For $83 Billion


As we’ve been saying for quite some time, the vexatious scourge of patent trolling -- the assertion by exploitative means of overbroad, outrageous, and in some cases straight up incorrect, patents against small, growing companies, has a negative effect on innovation and the broader economy. A new study from the Progressive Policy Institute investigates the explosion of litigation and cites earlier research that estimates the economic cost of patent trolling.

$83 Billion. Billion. With a B.

That means patent trolls are responsible for economic harm roughly equivalent to the gross domestic economic output of Oman (2012 figures), and yet we have thus far been unable to curb their relentless attempts at racketeering in our own courts.

In the study, Philip Goldberg describes what he calls a “perfect storm”: while patent litigation has existed in many respects since patents were first enshrined in our Constitution, we live among the salad days for patent trolls due to the opportunity and uncertainty which our current system presents. Technology is developing at breakneck speed, and differentiating between individual and grossly overbroad patents can be incredibly complicated work. Patent trolls are capitalizing on a system which, as currently constituted, does not adequately service our growing economy. It is a system within our power to reconstruct, and while that work is underway, we need this community to continue to support those efforts to bring them to fruition.

The full report is available here. We encourage you to read it, share your story and support the bipartisan, bicameral efforts currently under debate in Congress to reform our broken patent system. With economic harm on this scale, we must be able to solve this problem, and at least take steps to guard ourselves against the flagrant, unabashed disregard for progress exhibited by trolls and their allies.

Image courtesy of kimsuyeong.