Champlain College Legal Studies would like to invite you to what is sure to be an exciting and interesting discussion taking place on Monday, September 30, 2013 at 9:00am in the Alumni Auditorium involving the hot topic of patent abuse. Come learn how this affects several career fields within various majors offered here at Champlain College.
Patent Abuse – also known as “patent trolling” – involves sending a demand letter to, or filing a lawsuit against, an innocent company. Patent trolls do not develop inventions, do not make products, do not sell products, and do not create jobs. Patent trolls are “companies” that typically have purchased broad, vague patents that probably should never have been granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in the first place. The patent trolls purchase these questionable patents for the sole purpose of improperly threatening large numbers of companies with patent infringement. Often the patent troll’s threat letter gives the targeted business a short period of time to pay the license fee, or face a possible lawsuit in a distant federal court.
Increasingly, the targets are small and medium sized businesses. These businesses are typically app developers, web developers, and e-commerce retailers. James Bessen, one of the speakers at the panel discussion, has estimated that patent trolls cost businesses $29 billion in 2011.
The issue has gained significant visibility in Vermont. Earlier this year, the Vermont legislature passed the first in the nation law to curb patent trolling. The Vermont Attorney General brought the first in the nation lawsuit against a patent troll.
On a national level, there are seven bills pending in the House and Senate aimed at reforming patent law to curb this abusive behavior.
The panel discussion next week will include:
- Vermont business owners who have suffered at the hands of trolls.
- Congressman Peter Welch, who has sponsored a bill to curb patent abuse.
- Jim Bessen of Boston University, a leading academic who will discuss the destructive impact patent trolls are having.
- Explanation of what Vermont has accomplished.
- Discussion of various efforts in Congress to fix a broken system.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Eric Friedman.