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U.S. Patent Agency Draws Blame For Tangle Of Smartphone Lawsuits

Publication Date: 
April 12, 2012
The Wall Street Journal - Technology
Ashby Jones

Professor Mark Lemley discusses the current backup of smartphone patent disputes with The Wall Street Journal's Ashby Jones, and how the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is responsible for the mess.

A thicket of smartphone patent disputes is running up steep legal bills for many companies and casting uncertainty over the entire phone industry.

Who's to blame for the mess? Many legal experts say it isn't the companies involved in the disputes, but rather the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the federal agency that granted the patents in the first place.


As a result, the argument goes, the patent office has essentially punted to the court system the job of determining whether huge numbers of patents—especially software patents—are valid. "It's jammed up the courts and done so needlessly," said Mark Lemley, an intellectual-property expert and a law professor at Stanford University.