Bipartisan Agreement Exists! And It’s in Patent Reform

Posted by Dana Rao, Vice President of Intellectual Property and Litigation

Most days, I love my job. I am chief IP counsel at one of the most innovative companies on the planet—Adobe. I work with some of smartest people in the world who develop industry-leading technologies for creatives and marketing pros. I also have the privilege of working with leading universities and technology companies to license their IP to help make our products the world-class experiences people expect from Adobe. All of this innovation is protected by intellectual property law, including over three thousand patents and applications, which is what enables Adobe to employ thousands, serve our customers and provide value to our shareholders.

But there is one aspect of my job that is not so fabulous—dealing with patent trolls. My boss, Mike Dillon, has blogged about this scourge (with his usual flair). I was privileged to testify about it before Congress earlier this year, to urge our lawmakers to act, and act now. As a lawyer, and as someone who believes in sticking up for the little guy, I truly believe in the importance of having access to courts to help redress rights. In fact, I am married to a  lawyer who has devoted her entire career to helping underprivileged people gain access to the courts, and it is an issue we are both passionate about. But abusive patent litigation is just a cynical practice designed to extort money out of its victims by taking advantage of the high cost of defending patent lawsuits. When put to the test, these patent trolls lose. One study shows that patent trolls’ lawsuits are defeated in court 92% of the time, compared to 60% for other plaintiffs. But in today’s system, they face no consequences for their actions.

That’s why I am excited that help is on the way, thanks to the Innovation Act. The bill was written by Chairman Bob Goodlatte of the House Judiciary Committee, along with a bipartisan group of cosponsors including Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Howard Coble, Peter DeFazio, Lamar Smith, Anna Eshoo, Jason Chaffetz, Spencer Bachus, Tom Marnio, Blake Farenthold, and George Holding. Many Adobe employees live in the districts of Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo, and Jason Chaffetz, and we are particularly grateful for their support of a hometown company.

Adobe supports passage of the Innovation Act. We believe it protects the integrity of the patent system while reining in abusive litigation with the right solutions, especially with its focus on fee shifting.  We need to restore balance to this broken system, and the Innovation Act does just that.

Of course, there is more work to do to improve the bill, and we’ll be working with our friends in industry and Congress to help make those improvements going forward. Adobe’s sincere thanks go to Chairman Goodlatte for his leadership and to all the cosponsors and their staffs for understanding the insidious nature of the troll phenomenon and working to fix the problem.

To learn more about the patent troll problem and the need for reform, both the Business Software Alliance and Coalition for Patent Fairness have further information. You can learn how to contact your representatives in Congress here.

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