The Creepy Business of Patent Trolls; Foreign Attacks on License Holders Are Damaging U.S. Innovation

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Byline: Stephen DeMaura, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Free markets and pro-paycheck policy are necessary to build a strong economy rich with quality employment opportunities for all Americans. As the country has shifted from a manufacturing, labor-intensive workforce toward technology- and innovation-based jobs, it is important that we continue to protect our employees and companies, even if the industries on which we rely most heavily change over time.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 6 million factory jobs vanished between 2000 and 2009 in the United States. Conversely, jobs in information technology, software and design are on the rise with the steady influx of new technologies and advancements.

The United States must remain a competitive player as other countries expand their operations and innovations as well. Harboring the pioneering spirit of America is important to our economic growth and competitiveness in the global marketplace. Patent-system manipulators serve as a threat to the free-market system. Without oversight and vigilance to the ever-growing number of new threats to our patent system, these threats could impact large and small businesses alike, and inhibit job creation and American innovation.

Congress has recently introduced a variety of legislation aimed at addressing patent-assertion entities - or patent trolls - and is working on policy to prevent abuse to the U.S. patent system and patent holders. Patent trolls are accused of seeking legal action against patent holders and companies based on often frivolous claims. These entities hold intellectual property only to seek infringement settlements and court awards rather than licensing patents or producing anything. The often costly lawsuits have a trickle-down effect that impacts consumers and the economy as businesses are forced to allocate resources toward defending against frivolous lawsuits instead of increasing output and creating jobs.

A severe and often overlooked phenomenon is foreign governments entering this assertive role and seeking litigation on companies outside of their country. The governments of France, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, among others, have founded state-controlled patent trolls.

Many of these foreign-government-controlled entities have openly admitted to favoring companies in their country of origin while actively seeking action against foreign companies. …