A deteriorating intellectual property regime in the U.S. has been quietly unfolding over the last decade and has contributed to the declining standard of living for middle class Americans, the stagnant economy, and the outsourcing of high-tech manufacturing.
The Great Recession of 2008 technically ended in June 2009, but normal recovery never got traction in the next eight years of President Obama’s two terms.
Rearranging healthcare through Obamacare, reorganizing financial service regulations through Dodd-Frank, and the EPA war on fossil fuels — affecting some 38 percent of the economy — were thought to be the chief culprits hindering economic recovery. But it turns out that during this time frame, Supreme Court rulings and congressional legislation that affected the U.S. patent system and the protection of intellectual property also contributed to diminished innovation, fewer jobs created and lower economic growth.
Two factors contributed to a troubled U.S. patent environment that prompted response by the judiciary and the legislature: 1) the high cost of patent litigation and 2) the proliferation of vague, overbroad and otherwise bad patents that were exploited by “patent trolls.”
Patent trolls typically own large numbers of patents. Their business model revolves around monetizing portfolio patents through licensing fees from alleged infringers under threat of litigation.
In 2011 Congress sought to correct these problems by passing the America Invents Act (AIA), which sought to establish a faster and cheaper alternative to litigating patent disputes in courts by creating a new patent adjudication venue inside the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).