Statement by Cisco General Counsel Mark Chandler on Introduction of the “Innovation Act”

October 23, 2013 - 4 Comments

“Cisco applauds introduction of the Innovation Act,  legislation which aims to address the growing problem of patent assertion entities, often called patent trolls.

“According to a new study released this week, the problem is getting worse.  Nearly 60 percent of new patent lawsuits are being filed by patent assertion entities, up from 25% in 2007.  They are targeting legitimate businesses with threat letters and costly lawsuits, in the hope for a quick and easy settlement.  According to one estimate, these profiteers cost American businesses $29 billion in 2011.  This is a problem that cries out for legislative action.

“The legislation introduced today by Chairman Goodlatte and others goes a long way toward addressing the issues.  It helps dry up the financial incentives that have allowed patent trolls to thrive and significantly increases transparency.

“We stand ready to work with Chairman Goodlatte and his cosponsors as the bill moves through the legislative process, and we are especially grateful for the support of Cisco’s local Representatives Eshoo, Holding and Lofgren for their cosponsorship of this important legislation to address a major challenge faced by America’s technology industry.”

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  1. These policies are headed in the right direction. But the real road to patent reform starts by strengthening knowledge of scientists, engineers and the technicians who assist them in the identification and protection of patentable inventions. There is currently too much emphasis on patent counsel.

    Scientists and engineers have been taught little or nothing in school about patents. The legal profession and courts do not embrace “plain talk” about patent law. This results a massive gap in knowledge between the employee-inventor and patent counsel — a gap that is not overcome simply by allocating 90% of patent drafting to patent counsel — a currently irrational practice by any measure, be it speed, value, cost or quality. In an internet-centric world, the previous generation of tools for patent drafting and management are made obsolete. Can staid in-house legal departments lead a new charge? It doesn’t mean less work for counsel. It means better results.

    “We have met the enemy and he is us.” – Pogo

  2. There’s a big difference between seeding an industry through dissemination of intellectual property, and lying in wait to attack obvious inventions that have already been widely promulgated. Edison did his work without today’s litigation games, at a time when the patent office wasn’t overflooded with weak patent applications, and without shaking down end users. If Mr. Morinville is as inventive and entrepreneurial as he claims, he doesn’t need those tricks and should support an honest patent system focused on innovation.

    • I agree that there are some very poor patents being issued – both for stuff that should never be patented and with claims that can be interpreted to mean just about anything. I also agree that product companies can be ambushed by these ambiguous claims. I do support an honest patent system.

      I find it hard to agree that someone can be lying in wait if they have good claims. Patents are public information and they represent someone’s property. Product companies are responsible to know the art.

      Bad claims should be dealt with in court. Courts have been invalidating patents for hundreds of years and are quite good at it.

      Many provisions in the Innovation Act are very hostile to inventors and will seriously damage people like me. For many inventors, the damage will be fatal. However, killing inventors as a side effect of killing so called trolls is a very high price for all of us to pay.

      Cisco is a highly respected and innovative company. Certainly Cisco would also want to have a system that is both fair to large companies and fair to inventors.

  3. Thomas Edison was a Patent Troll. If this bill becomes law, there will be damn few Edisons in the future. I’m an inventor and entrepreneur. So called Patent Trolls are essential to start up companies and innovation in general. Trolls help companies by converting an asset into cash that can be used to build products, extend markets and create new businesses. This function of Trolls also helps to drive valuations of start up companies and encourage investment into them because the investors can recoup losses by leveraging the patents in the event the company fails. If we damage this investor/inventor relationship any further, we will kill patents altogether.