Patent Reform: How do we cross the finish line?
Matthew Fawcett, Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary, NetApp, USA
Jeremiah Chan, Senior Intellectual Property Counsel, JDS Uniphase Corporation, USA
Over the last several years, widespread abuse of patent litigation has imposed a severe tax on domestic and international companies. A disproportionate amount of this tax is born by high technology companies, including in the telecommunications sector. The primary culprits are non-producing entities (also known as “patent trolls”) who have successfully exploited a broken patent system to extort licensing fees from target companies.
Patent troll activity has continued to rise in the U.S over the last decade. While high technology/telecom companies comprise less than a quarter of Fortune 100 companies, nearly 70% of all patent litigation falls within the high technology/telecom sector. Networking giant Cisco disclosed that it spends $40 million annually on the U.S. patent system – most of which funds defensive litigation. Other telecom heavy weights such as Verizon, AT&T, and Motorola are also involved in dozens of new patent litigations initiated by trolls.
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