Academics express concern about pending patent reform

By Chandra Lye | Aug 11, 2016

A coalition of more than 25 academics has submitted a letter to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives expressing concern over pending patent reform. The group said its concerns were largely with changes proposed to litigation venue rules. 

"Our thought with the letter is before we change the patent laws in what surrounds the filing of patent cases anymore let's take a look and see what is going on with these previous reforms,” said University of Richmond law school professor Christopher Cotropia. 

He said they were simply saying it was time Congress took a look at what was going on before making any more changes.

Cotropia also pointed out that the number of filings has been falling.

"In general, I think the amount of patent litigation is going down and the number of patent suits being filed, particularly in the Eastern District of Texas, which turns out to be one of the heaviest file patent districts, not just over the last couple years but for the last five to almost 10 years," he said.

However, Matthew Levy, patent counsel at the Computer and Communications Industry Association, published an article that disagreed with the professors’ position.

In his article he says the Eastern District in Texas has rules that “give patent trolls a huge amount of leverage.”

He also concedes that filings in the Eastern District dropped in 2016 but that is because 2015 saw an exceptionally high number of cases. “2015 had 78 percent more patent cases filed than 2014.”

Levy said that the Venue Act or some other form of legislation was needed to fix the problem.

“It doesn’t have to be exactly the Venue Act but something that accomplishes the same basic goal, which is to put patent cases in more appropriate districts, ones with actual connections to the cases,” he said.

He argues that rules needed to be changed so that cases will be judged on their merits and in a district connected to the entities.

“There are literally dozens of empty offices that have no purpose other then to give a business presence to a patent assertion entity,” he said. “That really needs to stop. 

“The reason so many patent owners file in the Eastern District of Texas is not because they get a fairer shake from the judge or from the jury. It is that the rules require much more spending on part of the defendant much more quickly, which gives the patent owner much better leverage for settlement.”


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