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The Individual Inventor Motif in the Age of the Patent Troll

41 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2009 Last revised: 22 Apr 2014

Christopher Anthony Cotropia

University of Richmond School of Law

Date Written: July 1, 2009


The individual inventor motif has been part of American patent law since its inception. The question is whether the recent patent troll hunt has damaged the individual inventor's image and, in turn, caused Congress, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and the courts to not be as concerned with patent law's impact on the small inventor. This Article explores whether there has been an attitude change by looking at various sources such as congressional statements and testimony in discussions of the recent proposed patent reform legislation, the USPTO's response to comments on two recently proposed sets of patent rules, and recent Supreme Court patent decisions. These sources indicate that the rhetoric of the motif has remained unchanged, but its substantive impact is essentially nil. This investigation also provides a broader insight into the various governmental institutions' roles in patent law.

Keywords: patent, patent trolls, individual inventor, independent inventor, patent rhetoric, patent reform

Suggested Citation

Cotropia, Christopher Anthony, The Individual Inventor Motif in the Age of the Patent Troll (July 1, 2009). Yale Journal of Law & Technology, Vol. 12 (2009). Available at SSRN: or

Christopher Anthony Cotropia (Contact Author)

University of Richmond School of Law ( email )

28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA 23173
United States

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