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The Evolving Patent Arms Race

Publication Date: 
March 22, 2013
Technology Spectator - Reuters
Dan Levine and Miyoung Kim

Professor Mark Lemley spoke with Reuters' Dan Levine and Miyoung Kim about the increased efforts by foreign governments to get in on patent trolling, which he calls the "boom business model of the last decade." 

Patent competition in the United States is usually a fierce arena for private companies, but now the South Korean and French governments are suiting up.

Both countries have launched patent-acquisition companies, with the goal of helping domestic technology firms and possibly making some money in the process. China and Japan are making moves into the business too.


Stanford Law School professor Mark Lemley said the emergence of state-sponsored companies could drive more support for the bill, now in committee. Legislators may view them as foreign governments sucking away the fruits of US research, Lemley said, regardless of whether that is a realistic threat.


Stanford's Lemley said the ultimate method of judging these new players will be who they target. If Intellectual Discovery only uses its patents against companies who already sued Korean businesses - but leaves everyone else alone - then the company is a simple extension of Korean trade policy, Lemley said.

However, they might decide everyone is fair game.

"Then it really does look more like an effort by these foreign governments to get in on the boom business model of the last decade," Lemley said, "which is patent trolling."