Companies that denigrate independent patent holders who enforce their rights should take care not put all of the blame for the patent system’s ills on NPEs — There is plenty of bad patent behavior to go around.
In the patent system it’s getting harder to tell the bad actors apart. And you know what they say about bad karma: What goes around comes around.
In the current Intangible Investor, in the March IAM, “What’s in Their Wallet?,” I speculate about the dangers of complaining too loudly about how and by whom patents are being used. It can come back to haunt some large holders, many of whom hold large numbers of dubious patents and could be considered serial infringers.
“High patent counts are frequently a tactic rather than a solution and are an unreliable measure of success,” I write. “They are no more an indication of efficiency or innovation than a frivolous suit is of infringement. The quality of a patent holder’s portfolio matters, regardless of whether there is an intention to enforce it.
“Securing questionable patents is not a crime (although perhaps it should be), while enforcing them borders on one. This double standard will not exist forever. Decrying frivolous litigation loses meaning when the most vocal detractors of the current system are responsible for some of its worst patents.”
In “The Mousetrap,” Hamlet’s play-within-the-play designed to catch the King, Hamlet’s mother, Queen Gertrude, observes, “The lady doth protest too much.”
According to Wikipedia the quotation has been used “as a figure of speech to indicate that a person’s overly frequent or vehement attempts to convince others of something have ironically helped to convince others that the opposite is true, by making the person look insincere and defensive.”
Smart holders of some large patent portfolios would be wise to heed the advice. Subscribers to IAM can find “What’s in Their Wallet?” here.
Image source: depts.ttu.edu; dealbook.nytimes.com