'Troll' Check? A Proposal for Administrative Review of Patent Litigation
68 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2017 Last revised: 20 Dec 2017
Date Written: October 17, 2017
The patent system is commonly justified as a way to promote social welfare and, more specifically, technological progress. For years, however, there has been concern that patent litigation is undermining, rather than furthering, these goals. Particularly in the United States, the time, cost, and complications of patent suits provide openings for opportunistic assertions of infringement.
This Article proposes a way to address information problems that facilitate opportunistic assertion: an automatic process of administrative review at the threshold of infringement lawsuits in U.S. district courts. The results of this review would be non-binding but admissible in later court proceedings. Whether conducted by an independent Patent Litigation Review Board or a division of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, such review would: (1) help discourage -- or bring to an earlier and less costly end -- relatively weak patent-infringement lawsuits; (2) strengthen the litigation and bargaining positions of patentees with especially robust cases; (3) flag weaknesses in litigation positions to the benefit of private parties and the courts; and (4) provide policymakers with information that facilitates evaluation and adjustment of patent system performance. This Article uses multiple economic models to show the likely benefits of early-stage administrative review. Nonetheless, because of the fluid and complex nature of the patent litigation landscape, this Article proposes that the review process initially be adopted on a pilot basis.
Keywords: Patents, Patent Trolls, Patent Litigation Review Board, Opportunistic Patent Litigation
JEL Classification: K11, K41, O34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation