Congress is holding hearings at 9:00 am (EST) June 15, 2006 to figure out whether legislative action should be taken to stop the evil marauding patent troll. [Hearing Info] [Live Webcast] The speakers include Ed Reines (Weil Gotshal), Dean Kamen (Inventor), Paul Misener (Amazon.com), Chuck Fish (Time Warner).
Mr. Reines defines patent trolls by their activity -- a patent troll
- has no significant assets except patents;
- produces no products
- has attorneys as its most important employees; and
- acquires patents, but does not invent technology itself.
Reines is also clear that issues of "patent quality" are distinct from the patent troll issue and should be addressed separately.
In a loose proposal, Reines finds six problem areas of the law:
- Willfulness (it is too powerful and ruins attorney-client privilege);
- Submarine Patents (they are still around);
- Continuation Applications (Applicants shape pending applications to capture the current market);
- Damages (should be proportional to the value of the innovation in a larger product);
- Choice of Forum (forum shopping is rampant);
- Injunctions (eBay is wonderful, but might not be enough).