We have known for decades that economies grow when the women in them work. The more that women find ways to contribute their ideas and inventions to the economy, at a rate that at least equals their numbers as half the American population, the better off our country and the world will be.
”An anecdote is a snapshot, a one-dimensional shard of the big picture. It is lacking in scale, perspective, and data,” authors Steven Levitt and Stephan Dubner write. I was struck by how well the dynamic of anecdote vs. story captures the heated Washington debate over patent legislation we have witnessed in the past few years. The ”patent troll” narrative — fueled by anecdotal tales of mom-and-pop operations snared by fraudulent patent suits and the image of ugly green trolls paraded from the House floor to the White House – became the conventional wisdom on patents almost overnight. The only ”data” offered to support the narrative were compiled from surveys with unscientific methodologies, nonrandomized survey bases and ill-defined notions of a ”troll” that swept in universities, small inventors and anyone who owned a patent but didn’t manufacture, market and distribute the related product.
Notice letters play an important role in the patent system. Indeed, as the Supreme Court has explained, ”[p]atents would be of little value if infringers of them could not be notified of the consequences of infringement.” Virtue v. Creamery Package Mfg., Co., 227 U.S. 8, 37-38 (1913). Patent law encourages patent holders to take reasonable steps to notify others of existing or pending patent rights and their possible infringement. In some instances, federal patent law requires patent holders to send notice letters to accused infringers to preserve their patent enforcement rights and ability to collect damages. Notice letters and licensing communications can also serve the interests of accused infringers. Once a patent holder has made its rights known, the accused infringer can determine whether to cease the allegedly infringing activities, negotiate a license, or decide to continue its activities based on an assessment of non-infringement or invalidity.