Patent War Erupts Again: Time to Stop It

On Oct. 31, 2013, a consortium of Google rivals, including Microsoft, Apple, RIM, Ericsson, and Sony, filed 15 lawsuits against Samsung, Huawei, HTC, LG Electronics and other manufacturers that make Android smartphones, using a trove of patents the complanies acquired from the bankrupt Nortel. 

Enough already. Intellectual property protection is a good thing. But such "patent trolling," sometimes aptly called "privateering," might aptly be called extortion of a new sort. 

In 2011 and 2012, the number of lawsuits brought by patent trolls has nearly tripled, and account for 62 percent of all patent lawsuits in America, according to a study on patent trolls.

The victims of patent trolls paid $29 billion in 2011, a 400 percent increase from 2005.

Intellectual property protection is one thing. An out of control patents system, and the new use of litigation as a weapon of business competition, has to stop. It is going to damage innovation. 

Between $15 billion and $20 billion was spent on patent litigation and patent purchases in the smart phone industry from 2010 to 2012. 

In 2011, spending by Apple and Google on patent litigation and patent acquisitions exceeded spending on research and development of new products.

Google’s $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola, according to its own statements, was undertaken in large part to prevent patent suits from competitors.

If you have ever read patent applications, you know that some "patented processes" seem to defy logic. Where patents once were intended to protect the specific implementation of a process or device, now people and companies try to patent, in an overly-broad way, entire processes. It's dumb. It should not be allowed. 
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