"When the cat and mouse agree, the grocer is ruined."Today it was announced that Nathan Myhvold is teaming up with Professor Mark Lemley to conduct a two-year study on patent litigation, and further analyze the frequency and effect of non-practicing entity (NPE) litigation on the patent system. No matter what side of the debate your opinion falls, there is little doubt that the findings of the study will be one of the most anticipated events.
-- Iranian proverb
From today's press release:
"I tend to be an advocate of patent reform, while Nathan is generally more skeptical," Lemley said. "If we collaborate on a project together it will... be harder for critics to say that it has just one point of view."
Though an effort to pass patent reform legislation that would make it more difficult to file patent lawsuits stalled in Congress last year, the issue may yet be revisited on Capitol Hill.
Lemley said that he's seen estimates on the number of suits filed by non-practicing entities that range wildly, from 2% to 50% of all patent litigation. In addition, many struggle even to define what makes a so-called "patent troll" that acquires patents to use in court, and what makes a legitimate non-practicing entity.
"There is some gray area," Lemley said, "What do you do about an IP-holding subsidiary of a company?"Intellectual Ventures executive editor Wayt Gibbs said that an impartial study of patent litigation is necessary. "This is very important to innovation policy," Gibbs said. "It shouldn't be subjected to guesses and debates by highly interested parties."Gibbs said the study is focused on the years 2000 through 2007, and includes "data on every single patent case filed" in that period. The roughly two-year project is being undertaken by a number of different Intellectual Ventures employees alongside Lemley, and is expected to produce several papers.
- See: "Famed patent firm backs study on touchy subject" (link)
For more on recent activities of Intellectual Ventures,
- See "Microsoft's big brains spill into patent firm" (link)
See also "Venture firm picks up Transmeta chip patents" (link)