The folks you quote are mainly financed and are behiond most of the lobbying that drives the debate. Inventors are outspent 20 times to 1. It was Intel that first coined the term "troll" ("The real inventors of the term 'patent troll' revealed" iam 22 August 2008 > http://www.iam-magazine.com/blog/detail.aspx?g=cff2afd3-c24e-42e5-aa68-a4b4e7524177)
The reason for the increase in litigation has more to do with changes in the Patent Act under the ironically titled "America Invents Act" #AIA. You have to file complaints on a per defendant basis.
Second, since when did journalists stop interviewing the actual inventors? I see a lot about Bessen and Lemley and "patent aggregators" (themselves arguably engaging in anti-trust and anti-competitiove behavior through their associations) nothing from the actual folks who do the inventing.
Third, unlike copyright, which has statutory damages and consists of registration of the "work", patents are *paid* for by the applicant ("inventor", now under #AIA unbelievably the same), who must go through search and examination and is most likely going to have to pay a patent agent or patent attorney to handle the prosecution.
That over the past 25 years our country has decided to gut the best patent system ever invented ... Shameful. Lobbying is indeed cheaper than innovation. Ask Dell and Cisco and Motorola and ...
Last, invention is much harder than production. Anyone can copy and fully implement production of a patented invention AFTER reading a fully enabling disclosure made public by an inventor upon "publication" (which became law under a similarly deceptive law "American Inventors Protection Act of 1999"). Prior, American inventors could elect to have their fully enabling disclosures *not* be made public (unless they were seeking international patent protection).
You cannot harmonize innovation. The Coalition for Patent Fairness (#CPF) and their ilk would like to expense infringement. That would be the end of Ameican leadership in innovation. Invention is a value, per our Constitution (Art 1 Sec 8) and a healthy debate amongst our Founding Fathers. ("A history of the United States Patent Office" http://www.historical-markers.org/usptohistory2.cgi)
Canada saw a decline in measures of innovation after moving from a First-to-Invent system to a First-to-File system. One study is available at SSRN. "Does it Matter Who Has the Right to Patent: First-to-Invent or First-to-File? Lessons from Canada" http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1394833#%23 & here > http://www.nber.org/papers/w14926 In part > "the reforms had a small adverse effect on domestic-oriented industries and skewed the ownership structure of patented inventions towards large corporations, away from independent inventors and small businesses. These findings challenge the merits of adopting a first-to-file patent regime."
Here is piece by Steve Perlman an inventor and entrepreneur. "Innovation and IP in Todays Business" http://www.rearden.com/public/090924-Innov_and_IP_in_Todays_Biz-3.pdf
America Invents Act is horribly distortive and unconsitutional. It is the ultimate in "too big to fail" for alleged innovators who serially infringe the rights of our American Inventors.
I am a bit ambivalent about calling most NPE's as trolls! Of course there are many of those trolls out there who have had a field day of suing those that are indeed practicing the art while never intending to make anything out of their IP (except money!). Even worse, some of the trolls are also in the business of consolidating / buying related IP from smaller NPE's and wait for a practicing entity to trip / violate the so called claims. The business models of many troll companies is just that!
To be fair to smaller NPE's who in many cases are forced to be so (lack of venture funding, adverse business conditions), their only hope to redeem themselves is in IP negotiation.
But the bottom line is all of the above are adding to the problem for which there is no easy solution.
Current system is legal-centric. What is needed is to make it 'intellectual property'-centric, permitting easy commercial transactions. Here is one way to do it.
Currently banks have expertise for realestate and tangible property valuation, enabling them to facilitate realestate and tangible property commercial transactions.
Create Intellectual Property and intangible asset valuation expertise within banks. Then banks will be able to facilitate patent and other intangible property transactions. This will change the current legal-centic patent tsunamis.
This could also help transition other pre-industrial institutions into the information age.
"First to File" implies a race. A race involves two or more participants. By definition, that means any proposed solution is "skill of the art", not "new and novel". The very concept of "First to File" is corrupt.
I don't need a breath. And, your condescending tone in a response that is fully supported by alternate points of view sounds a bit defensive.
Dean Kamen? He is hardluy representative of the folks you tar and feather. As for my own work, I prosecuted over 40 patents on my own. Being called names is silly.
I could have delved into other more blatant abuses of the systekm by the alleged reformers (eg. not challenging patents while in prosecution, not filing believeable IDSes, pushing smaller companies into licensing pools during allegedly open standards meetings, etc.); but, the points I raised stand on their own.
The revolving door of money in Washington makes it easy to go after the folks that built this country's technology edge - American Inventors.
Read the references before accusing your readers of not understanding your (copyrighted) articles.
Indeed the term "troll," coined as you note by Intel is derisive and offensive to some. Non-practicing entity (NPE) is a bit lugubrious but at least not offensive.
In any case, my hope is that all sides can get a fair hearing on this issue and some progress can be made toward improving the system. As someone who clearly has some (apparently painful) experience here, I'd like to hear any suggestions you have about how to move the ball forward--and what stories need to be written about what's going on.
I'll offer a radical approach to patent reform -- not more than 3 patents to any one company per year. I think it's time for a radical approach given the rampant abuse of the system. Tom Wolfe wrote a great short story about the early days of Silicon Valley which explained the passion with which early engineers shared their advances with one another after a day in the lab. From that, came rapid progress. Without that, we are throwing sand on the wheels of growth.