Earlier this month, the Senate took patent reform off the table for this legislative session. The Senate leadership did this despite the fact that a strong bill passed in the House with overwhelming support. And thousands of constituents have called for meaningful reform to finally put an end to patent trolling. Instead of listening to innovators and entrepreneurs across the country, the Senate followed marching orders from big biotech, pharmaceutical, and trial lawyer lobbyists.
We were particularly disheartened to see universities oppose critically needed reform of our broken patent system. In a letter organized by the Innovation Alliance, over 100 academic institutions urged the Senate not to pass patent reform legislation. But in doing so, these universities are not representing the interests of their students, researchers, or the inventive learning communities that academia should aim to foster.
By standing in the way of legislative reform, academic institutions are advocating against the interests of their most inventive students and researchers. As things stand now, student innovators are entering into an environment ridden with the threat of abusive patent trolls and costly, unnecessary litigation. That’s why we’re calling on students and researchers to raise their voice and sign the petition in support of real patent reform.
In joining with patent trolls, universities are engaged in a short-sighted chase for cash. For example, more than 60 institutions have sold patent rights to the infamous troll Intellectual Ventures. Despite these deals, a recent Brookings Institution study revealed that patent licensing campaigns don’t actually bring much revenue to universities. Instead of hitching their wagon to patent trolls, universities should focus on true technology transfer. This means partnering with industry to actually bring new products to market and not partnering with trolls that simply tax productive companies.
University support for patent trolls is especially disappointing because many of the innovations that come from academia are funded by public tax dollars. University research is often made possible by grants from the National Science Foundation and other federal programs that support important academic innovation. While the law allows for universities to patent and license out federally funded inventions, we would hope universities take better care in ensuring that their deals align with the interest of the public whose funds they are using.
Broad patent reform might be on hold for this legislative session. But we’ll be ready when the Senate reconvenes. If you’re affiliated with a university and dismayed by the Senate’s failure to pass common-sense fixes to the patent system, then join us in signing a letter to the Senate. It’s time to make sure our elected officials hear us loud and clear: some academic institutions may be against critical reform, but we—your constituents—urge our lawmakers to put an end to patent troll abuse.
Sign the petition today. Support student innovation. And urge your peers, colleagues, and fellow alumni to do the same. Together, we’ll put an end to patent trolls.
Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) – eff.org
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