What is the appropriate response to a legitimate request for patent licensing?
If you are an information technology company comfortable taking full advantage of confusion in the patent system, and unfettered by business ethics, it may be tossing the offer in the garbage can — just because you can.
Can a business simply ignore a reasonable licensing offer or does it have an obligation, ethical or otherwise, to take seriously a reasonable request to consider a license to an invention it requires or may already be using?
For an executive at one inventor-owned business, Personalized Media Communications, being totally ignored when a legitimate request to discuss a patent license is presented is an abusive practice and a threat to innovation that must be stopped.
The Real Issue
“Too often, this abusive behavior is conflated with ownership models to deflect attention from the real problems,” said Aaric Eisenstein, VP Licensing Strategy. “PR efforts targeting ‘trolls’ have warped stories of threats to mom & pop businesses to cast large companies as the equally helpless victims of these ruthless predators… the real issue is abusive behavior, and that’s what needs to be targeted…
“The responsibility for ending abuse rests not only with the Patent Office and the federal courts but also with the stakeholders in the patent system themselves. The stakeholders cannot simply complain and lobby for one-sided solutions. They must work together to improve the system upon which they all depend.
“The responsibility for ending abuse rests not only with the Patent Office and the federal courts but also with the stakeholders in the patent system themselves.”
“Following these rules eliminates both problems: skimpy-to-ridiculous notice packages and throwing legitimate packages in the trash. It doesn’t matter whether the companies are large or small or whether they’re direct operating competitors or have completely different ownership models. The critical point is that these standards are targeted to prohibit abusive behavior per se…
“The US patent system was the envy of the world for generations. It can be again if we’re honest about its shortcomings and address them in direct and balanced ways.”
The TROL Act in the House of Representatives reintroduced legislation with apparent bi-partisan support that would give the Federal Trade Commission and the state attorneys general authority to issue civil penalties up to $5 million for sending misleading or bad faith letters demanding patent licenses.
There is no indication that penalties will also be instituted for bad faith on the part of businesses that ignore legitimate offers to license good patents, forcing owners to file suit.
Eisenstein is grateful to USPTO Director Andrei Iancu for having “reminded patent system stakeholders what US inventors have given the world and the right way to enhance the system.”
For the full article, go here.
Image source: seapine.com