Patent Reform for a Digital Economy

Intellectual Property and Patents

Article Snapshot


Brian Kahin


Computer and Communications Industry Association white paper, Nov. 2006


This presentation looks at problems with the patent system that affect technology.

Policy Relevance

There are too many patents. The patent system needs reform, or growth in information technology relating to computers, communications, and software will be hurt.

Main Points

  • The patent office allowed too many bad patents partly because it became funded by fees.


  • The Federal Circuit has made it too easy for patent owners to win cases by:
    • Making it easy to order infringers to stop (injunctions)
    • Assuming that patents are valid
    • Making patents easy to get (obviousness)
    • Expanding patents to include software and business methods


  • Information technology products are complex, and each potentially involves thousands of patents. Too many patents makes it hard to find, assess, and avoid infringement.


  • Reform should include:
    • Changing patent law to adapt to the information technology sector
    • Making it impossible to get patents for ordinary innovations
    • Having patent applications reviewed by innovators’ peers
    • Granting rewards for alerting patent examiners to technology that invalidates patents
    • Requiring registration of letters that claim infringement
    • Improving PTO accountability
    • Stopping patent owners from taking advantage of open standards

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