Real cost of patent trolling

Kim sez, "Tech investor Brad Feld has a blog entry up summarizing and linking to a great paper by some BU School of Law students, in which they research the social & fiscal real world costs of patent trolls. From his site: '... a phenomenal paper titled The Private and Social Costs of Patent Trolls. Rather than be politically correct and refer to NPEs simply as 'non-practicing entities,' they cut through all the noise, define what a patent troll is, and go through a detailed and rigorous analysis of the private and social costs of patent trolls."

Regarding money:

* From 1990 – 2010 NPE lawsuits are associated with $500 billion dollars of lost wealth to defendants.
* In the past four years, NPE lawsuits are associated with an average of $80 billion per year of lost wealth to defendants.
* Very little of this loss wealth represents a transfer to inventors.

The litigation has distinctive characteristics:

* It is focused on software and related technologies.
* It targets firms that have already developed technology.
* Most of these lawsuits involve multiple large companies as defendants.

The authors suggest that these lawsuits exploit weaknesses in the patent system. They conclude that the loss of billions of dollars of wealth associated with these lawsuits harm society and state “while the lawsuits increase incentives to acquire vague, over-reaching patents, they decrease incentives for real innovation overall.”

The Real Cost of Patent Trolls