IP: Implications of GAO Report on patent infringement litigation

Patent quality, not patent trolls, may be more to blame for nuisance infringement suits

The America Invents Act of 2012 (AIA) that reformed U.S. patent law also directed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to compile a report on factors affecting patent litigation. Specifically, the GAO was to examine what some felt were problems created by the growth in software patent infringement suits brought by non-practicing entities, otherwise known as “patent trolls.” These matters are often seen as nuisance suits, brought against companies and others in an attempt to force a settlement and licensing agreement so as to avoid costly litigation.

The GAO issued its report in August and concluded that patent quality, not patent trolls, may be more to blame for nuisance infringement suits. Its analysis showed that companies that make products brought most of the patent infringement lawsuits and that non-practicing entities brought only about 20 percent of all lawsuits. The GAO report also concluded that rather than focusing on the identity of the litigants, emphasis should be placed on improving the quality of issued patents and the examination process in order to strengthen the U.S. patent system.

Contributing Author

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Michael R. Fleming

Michael Fleming is a lawyer with Miles & Stockbridge’s Intellectual Property & Technology Practice. He co-leads the firm’s Post-Grant Team and is...

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