Strengthening Intellectual Property Rights

By Austin W. McLaughlin, Cornell University

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This memo offers an analysis of some of the most pressing issues in the US patent system, including bad patents, patent trolls, and patent thickets. Today’s patent landscape is decidedly anticompetitive, where the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is inundated with bad patents that obscure real innovation. It is also predatory, due in part to the practices of companies that aggressively solicit lawsuits at minimal cost without any innovation of their own—known as patent trolls. Meanwhile, truly productive companies are forced to aggregate patent portfolios, contributing to the problem of dense patent thickets, bureaucracy, and cross-licensing issues. 

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