Patent Issues of Crowdfunding - Exploring Patent Strategies of Crowdfunding Projects and the Need for Patent Reform
MIPLC Master Thesis Series (2014/15)
77 Pages Posted: 15 May 2016
Date Written: 2015
Crowdfunding is a new form of product development that presents an idea to the public in order to fundraise from many individuals, thereby eventually commercializing the idea into a product. During the past couple of years, crowdfunding has become popular and meanwhile has become an important funding approach for many startups. However, the current patent system fails to work properly for crowdfunding industry: crowdfunding projects on the one hand face challenges in pursuing patent protection for their own technologies; and on the other hand are entitled to limited defenses while being sued for patent infringement. Therefore, the present thesis aims to address such patent issues of crowdfunding and to advance a feasible patent reform proposal. This thesis firstly introduces the crowdfunding industry with a focus on its technical, economic, and legal aspects. Then this thesis reviews the inherent conflict between raisers and funders and explores patent protection strategies for crowdfunding projects accordingly. Subsequently this thesis discusses patent infringement issues when a crowdfunded product is claimed by a third party’s patent and analyzes possible defense strategies crowdfunding projects may adopt. Lastly, this thesis advocates a patent reform proposal in favor of the crowdfunding industry given certain policy considerations. This thesis mainly concerns the European Union, China, and the U.S, from a comparative law perspective.
Keywords: MIPLC, crowdfunding, startups, patent law, patent strategy
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