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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Congress, FTC, Supreme Court take Action to Combat Patent Trolls, Relying on Research by Professor Feldman

Research conducted by Professor Robin Feldman, one of the country’s foremost experts on patent trolls, has been cited and relied upon by Congress, the FTC, and the journal Nature, among others.
Professor Robin Feldman

As Congress and the FTC undertake action designed to combat the growing patent troll problem in the U.S., and the Supreme Court grants cert. in two patent troll cases, the journal Nature cites Professor Feldman's data on the links between federally funded organizations and agencies and patent trolls.

"Evidence continues to emerge on the wide reach of trolling activities - even into universities and tax-payer funded research," says Feldman. "As universities struggle to find revenue sources, one might worry that the monetization industry will be very tempting." As noted in the Nature article, there are indications that this may already be happening. In her research, Feldman listed nearly 50 universities that appear to have signed deals with Intellectual Ventures, a prominent patent aggregation firm. "Some deals may involve sale or licensing of a few patents, some may involve investment by the university in Intellectual Ventures, and some may involve wholesale assignment of future innovation," notes Feldman.

UC Hastings Professor Robin Feldman is one of the most widely cited and relied upon experts about patent trolls in the U.S. Her groundbreaking research proved in dramatic fashion what many scholars and commentators have long suspected: patent trolls play a dominant role in a substantial portion of patent lawsuits filed today. The data from the study, analyzing five years' worth of patent litigation, has been used by a litany of public policy makers as the country debates what to do about its growing patent troll problem.   

"In addition to recent action taken by House Judiciary Committee Chair Robert Goodlatte, the FTC voted to launch a broad-ranging investigation into patent trolls recently as well," says Feldman. "This is the type of investigation I encouraged the FTC to initiate (and discussed how to initiate) in public comments to the DOJ, as well as in an Op-Ed for the San Francisco Chronicle. I have also written an article for the Stanford Journal of Law, Business, and Finance on this subject, which will be published shortly."

The heightened scrutiny on patent trolls extends to other branches of government as well. In addition to congressional action, the Supreme Court is wading into the fray. The high court recently agreed to review two cases about patent trolls: Octane Fitness v. ICON Health & Fitness and Highmark v. Allcare Health Management System. The Court granted cert. for both cases on Oct. 1; dates have not yet been set for oral arguments but both cases will be heard and decided this term.

Professor Feldman is available for comment on any of these items, or to answer questions about patent trolls and the patent system in general.

Media inquiries should be directed to Alex A.G. Shapiro, Director of Communications & Public Affairs, shapiroa@uchastings.edu or 415-581-8842.

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