CPAC: Patent Litigation Reform Panel Should Include and Acknowledge Both Sides of Debate
This week, conservatives from across the nation and even the globe congregate in Washington for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
Each year, CPAC features prominent conservative political figures, including prospective presidential candidates, as well as panels on various issues. This year, appropriately, a panel is scheduled to address the important issue of patent reform.
We at CFIF value and advocate strong intellectual property (IP) rights, including patent rights, as much as any organization. At the same time, we support patent reform like that proposed by Congressman Robert Goodlatte (R – Virginia). The way we see it, the problem of so-called “patent trolls” (which can be an overused and unfair term, as non-practicing entities have every right to enforce legitimate patent rights in court) is largely one requiring legal reform, rather than one justifying weakening of patent rights themselves. Accordingly, we favor such reforms as requiring greater specificity in court pleadings, assessment of fees and costs to a greater number of improperly-litigious plaintiffs and discovery process reform.
Opponents of patent reform legislation incorrectly claim that it will deprive judges of discretion in assessing fees, but the fact is that discretion will remain. As we have detailed, what will change is that the presumption in awarding costs and feels will shift on the continuum toward allowing innocent victims of vexatious plaintiffs to receive compensation for having to defend against unjustified lawsuits. Reform opponents also claim that it would improperly chill the filing of lawsuits by legitimate plaintiffs. But as any reasonable person realizes, the overwhelming problem in our current litigation system is not reluctance by plaintiffs to sue, but rather excessive willingness to sue.
Accordingly, our hope is that the CPAC panel allows a full and fair presentation of both sides in this debate. To do otherwise would be a disservice to attendees, the broader debate and CPAC itself.