Paper Patents

I want to flag an important new patent article written by John Duffy that just came out in the Cornell Law Review called “Reviving the Paper Patent Doctrine,” 99 Cornell L. Rev. 1359 (2013).  (There is no link to the article yet.)  I heard Professor Duffy talk about this issue a few years ago, and was deeply impressed.  Here is the abstract:

“One of the most interesting developments in patent law during the last century is the catastrophic collapse of the paper patent doctrine, which had authorized courts to discriminate against patents that were never success- fully practiced by their patentees. The doctrine’s demise opened the door for the dramatic and controversial rise in patent litigation by “nonpracticing entities” or “patent trolls”–entities that, in the words of President Obama, “don’t actually produce anything themselves.” This Article undertakes a comprehensive review of this lost doc- trine and shows that the doctrine took a balanced approach, hurting patentees who never developed their techno- logies but helping those who had. The doctrine declined because it could not be reconciled with the theoretically impoverished views about information disclosure embraced by courts of the late twentieth century. With the advent of more sophisticated theories about the value of learning-by-doing and, more generally, about the problems asso- ciated with generating and disseminating information, the paper patent doctrine now has what it lacked in the past–a solid theory for favoring patents that were taught not just through paper disclosure but also by real-world practice. This Article concludes that the paper patent doctrine should be revived and that existing case law provides a sufficient foundation for a revival.”

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think this will be one of the most influential articles written in IP this year.

 

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