Brief

Patent reform would better protect Europe against patent trolls

patent trolls, patent litigation, patent court

Summary The risk of being targeted by patent trolls, who speculate in extorting companies by filing lawsuits against them, is a big problem in the United States’ patent system. When debating the potential of a patent reform in Europe, critics have expressed concerns that these trolls would play an even bigger role if we said yes to the reform.
 
Think Tank EUROPA finds these concerns to be unjustified due to several major differences in the American and European systems which indicate that patent trolls would not thrive as well in Europe as they do in the US. In fact, the European patent reform would make life even more difficult for patent trolls, as it would become more expensive for them to sue innocent companies. At the same time, establishing a unified patent court would more or less eliminate the potential for so-called ‘forum shopping’, as the cases would be settled once and for all by a specialised corps of judges.
 
However, Europe can also learn something from the US: The American system has an option for appeal with the Supreme Court having superior legal jurisdiction, which could be used to the European model’s advantage.

Main conclusion
  • Patent trolls, who speculate in extorting companies by filing lawsuits against them, are a widespread phenomenon and significant problem in the US, but a patent reform would keep them at bay in Europe.
  • Forum shopping, where plaintiffs exploit various legal procedures from state to state, also takes place in the United States. Today, this kind of speculation is also possible in Europe, but it would be much more difficult to carry out in a unified patent court.
  • The Supreme Court functions as the highest court of appeal for patent law cases in the United States, thereby securing public interest in a way that specialised courts may not. This option is