Wall Street Journal - "Inventors, Trolls, Patents and Improving the System"

Alexander Poltorak, the Founder and Chairman of American Innovators for Patent Reform as well as Chairman and CEO of General Patent Corporation, wrote a letter to the editor in response to an op-ed piece by Senator Chuck Schumer. Dr. Poltorak's letter explains why the focus on patent trolls is misdirected. ("Inventors, Trolls, Patents and Improving the System" Wall Street Journal − June 26, 2013)

Excerpt: Sen. Chuck Schumer's opinion piece ("A Strategy for Combating Patent Trolls," June 13 [subscription required]) and the letters published in response (June 18) miss the point. To say that a defendant in a patent-infringement lawsuit is trapped between spending money on lawyers defending the case or paying royalties is a truism that is valid across any civil litigation. Corporate powers who are habitual infringers spend tens of millions lobbying for patent reform. And who is lobbying for the small inventors, formerly known as great American inventors and now rebranded as "patent trolls"? It's American democracy-the best democracy your money can buy.

A patent is a bargain between an inventor and the state, whereby the state induces the inventor to disclose the invention in exchange for a limited monopoly. Practice of the invention isn't a part of the bargain − it is the disclosure of the invention that is rewarded with a patent grant. This central point got lost in the debate. Today, small inventors are branded as nonpracticing entities (NPEs) or worse, patent trolls. Following this logic, should we require that composers sing their own songs or architects build houses they design?

If Mr. Schumer and President Obama, who supports Mr. Schumer's bill, want to improve the quality of patents, they should provide for full funding of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. They should stop withholding revenues that the PTO collected from inventors for patent application and maintenance fees, effectively imposing a tax on innovation. The PTO could then hire more examiners and allow them to spend more time examining patent applications. There is a novel idea.

Alexander Poltorak
Founder and Chairman
American Innovators for Patent Reform
Suffern, N.Y.

See letter on the Wall Street Journal website