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Oracle-Google Case Shows Patent System Flaws

Publication Date: 
April 25, 2012
San Francisco Chronicle
James Temple

Professor Mark Lemley is mentioned in the following article written by the San Francisco Chronicle's James Temple on the growing number of patent trolls and the role that courts can play in reducing this number.

The big news out of the Oracle versus Google showdown on Monday was that one of Oracle's patents was brought back from the dead, put back into play after the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office reversed its earlier rejection.

But let's be clear: One zombie patent isn't the remarkable thing in this case. The remarkable thing is that, when the dust settles, five of the seven patents Oracle claimed that Google violated will likely be overturned because Google forced the patent office to take a second look.


If only two of Oracle's patents hold up on review, that means the patent office got it right less than 30 percent of the time, an average we have every reason to believe is representative of the entire sector's patents. In fact, software patent holders lose nearly 90 percent of the time in litigation, Stanford law Professor Mark Lemley found in a research paper published last year.


Lemley believes the courts should play a more active role by dismissing outlandish damage requests, forcing trolls to cough up attorney fees and narrowing the scope of patent claims from broad descriptions to specific explanations of how the technology works.