Kenneth Stanwood is Chief Technical Officer of WiLAN Inc. He is an inventor and entrepreneur with more than 150 issued US patents and numerous foreign counterparts. He supports WiLAN’s technology licensing teams and is responsible for WiLAN’s government relations efforts. However, his primary responsibility is WiLAN’s internal research and development which is heavily oriented towards collaboration with universities. Mr. Stanwood has more than 30 years of experience in wireless communications and signal processing. He served as vice chare of IEEE802.16 and was one of the founders of the WiMAX Forum. Mr. Stanwood holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematical Sciences with Highest Honors from Oregon State University and a Master of Science in Computer Science from Stanford University.
Recently, the Inventor Protection Act, H.R.6557, was introduced to Congress. It’s a very well intentioned piece of proposed legislation. However, it may actually do more harm than good to efforts to strengthen patent rights in the aftermath of the AIA. We need to fix what is wrong with the patent system for everyone, not merely carve out exceptions for a few. Is H.R.6557 a step in the right direction, gaining momentum for stronger patent property rights for everyone, or will it harm the ability to reach that goal? We think the answer is clear that H.R. 6557 as written doesn’t do what the patent laws were intended to do.
In their recent TC Heartland decision, SCOTUS created unequal protection against patent infringers based on geographical incorporation decisions. They added uncertainty in time, cost, and outcome in patent litigation. Standardized local rules and demand letter reform at the federal level would help mitigate this unfortunate situation… Unless Congress acts to change venue laws, patent owners are now severely restricted in the choice of venue. And, if proposed legislation like S.2733 and the corresponding portion of H.R.9 are any indication, action by Congress may not change much regarding venue. So for now, patent owners must live with the restrictions resulting from TC Heartland.
The validity of secondary markets for a variety of goods and services is never questioned. Securities are sold and resold many times after their initial offering, homes and buildings and built and resold many times, as are automobiles. A quick review of the products listed an eBay leaves little doubt that a robust secondary market exists for many goods and services across the American economy. However, not everyone is in agreement that a secondary patent market is beneficial. For some reason, many people villainize companies that practice patent licensing. Even resorting to the use of pejorative terms such as “patent troll” to describe these businesses. These detractors fail to account for the fact that inventors may not be the most efficient licensors. In addition, they don’t take into account that, just as a builder generates revenue to build more buildings by selling their current ones, companies that sell or license patents help fund further R&D with the proceeds.