For my last proposal, I investigated the societal side of the patent reform issue, and more specifically patent trolls. Obviously, innovation is, for the most part, a good thing for society. Patents exist in order for inventors to reap the spoils of creativity and efforts required to create a new practical product. It would be a crazy world if everyone could mooch off of the efforts of others. People would try less in coming up with new ideas.
Innovation in society aids in comfort, convenience, and efficiency. Patent trolls stifle this innovation. The proper term for these trolls is patent assertion entities. They are companies whose soul purpose for existing is to buy and exploit inventions of others. These trolls for the most part buy patents with the intent of suing. During a patent lawsuit, innovation is not only stifled when a patent troll wins the case. If a company continues to develop new products and versions of products while targeted with a patent lawsuit, they could be subject to even more damages. Thus, they won’t do anything. This means less innovation for society. Research and development is put on hold due to the possibility of there being a guilty verdict. This is inevitable given the current nature of US patent law. Nothing has been done to prevent against such trolling.
Studies have also been done stating that there would be less innovation if there was no patent protection at all. I plan on investigating both sides and assessing what type of balance would produce a greater good in society from an innovation standpoint.