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Matthew K. Blackburn is the managing partner of Locke Lord LLP in San Francisco, California. He is a patent lawyer who advises clients on patent litigation.
Complaints about abusive patent litigation are in vogue. The popular press is filled with stories about so-called “patent trolls” or patent assertion entities (PAEs) waging war against technology innovators. These PAEs are a tax on the U.S. economy. PAEs do not make products or supply services based upon their patents—they enforce patents only to generate licensing fees. The desire to thwart these PAEs has led to a myriad of patent reform proposals to fix the “broken” U.S. patent system. These proposals range from creating a fee shifting system where a losing litigant would pay the accused infringer’s legal fees, to requiring disclosure of patent ownership records, to requiring a patent holder to provide additional details in the complaint when filing suit. These proposals miss the mark, placing at risk the U.S. patent system—which is the envy of the world.