One reason the U.S. patent system is such a mess is because there’s really no downside for those who abuse it. If you’re a patent troll, you can file baseless lawsuits against anyone under the sun and if you win, you strike gold. If you lose, you can just pick up another old patent and try again while your targets are stuck paying their legal fees.
This economic asymmetry is what drives the patent troll problem, and explains in part why the Supreme Court is hearing two cases on Wednesday that seek to determine when a bad patent actor should pay the other side’s legal fees. The issue is important enough that a host of major companies, including Apple(s aapl) and the New York Times(s nyt), have submitted briefs urging the Court to change the rules.
The details of the cases involve arcane procedural and evidence issues, but much…
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