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Recent developments in the field of robotics highlight the difficulty of balancing the need for a free market to foster innovation and growth with the need to protect legitimate companies from “patent trolls” and patent privateers in the United States. The article calls on Congress to protect innovative companies from attacks by patent privateers, who divert energy from innovation.

In the United States, patent litigation boutiques are big business. Innovative companies, such as those in the robotics industry, often generate 100s of patent applications each year. This leaves such companies vulnerable to “patent trolls”, businesses in the business of litigating patent claims. When faced with the expense of such a fight, companies often settle, thus draining resources away from the innovation which enables the company to flourish. It is important that all IP be adequately protected, whether through well drafted patent claims, or well drafted licensing and IP transfer agreements.

This article is useful for a licensor or licensee of patent/IP who may wish to consider: (1) carrying out a freedom to operate search at the diligence stage prior to licensing or acquiring IP assets; (2) may wish to seek a legal opinion and/or insurance prior to licensing or acquiring IP assets that are disclosed in the public domain; or (3) may opt not to patent their technology in order to keep their processes out of the public domain.

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Take away:

  • Investing in well drafted IP protection allows companies to focus on their business, instead of draining resources from innovation to litigation.


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