Curbing patent trolling in Europe

Last September, we joined a coalition of European and U.S. companies and associations in an open letter applauding Europe’s move toward a Unitary Patent System. Today, we’re releasing another letter with an expanded coalition.

We are participants in and supporters of the European patent system and look forward to its harmonized future. The coalition has proposed some changes to the Unitary Patent System draft rules to help ensure its smooth operation and to curb abuses by the kinds of patent trolls that have plagued the U.S. economy.

Patent trolls—entities that don’t make anything, instead using dubious patents to extort money from companies that do—are placing a huge drag on innovation. In the United States, trolls use the threat of expensive and lengthy litigation to extract settlements, even if their patents wouldn’t hold up in court.

A Unitary Patent System could promote efficiency and long-term competitiveness. But the current draft rules contain certain provisions that trolls could exploit, taking a potentially serious toll on economic growth and innovation in Europe.

For instance, the rules as currently written could allow a troll to block a product from the European market using a patent that later turns out to be invalid. We think that the validity of a patent should be tested before it impacts 500 million European consumers.

The proposals outlined in our coalition letters would build confidence that Europe’s new Unitary Patent System will address the problem of patent trolls, allowing companies to invest in innovation and growth—not frivolous patent litigation.