“Massive awards are new,” says Robin Feldman, a law professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law. “The patent system is allowing rights holders to bargain for compensation far above the value of the right. It’s become a gold rush, and there is an extraordinary level of speculation in the market.”
Changes in the U.S. patent system are afoot, with the White House announcing in June 2013 moves to improve the quality of newly issued patents, boost transparency, protect small businesses, and reduce nuisance lawsuits. These moves are unlikely to curb the influence of superconsortiums, aggregators, or PAEs, however. More useful, thinks Feldman, is the Federal Trade Commission’s promise to investigate the entire industry of patent monetization. “The FTC can subpoena things shrouded in nondisclosure agreements and require companies to report on what they are doing,” Feldman says. “Lack of information is a key issue for regulators and legislators in figuring out what they could do.”
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