101 Iowa L. Rev. 137 (2015)
A commonly offered justification for patent trolls or non-practicing entities (“NPEs”) is that they serve as a middleman, facilitating innovation and bringing new technology from inventors to those who can implement it. We survey those involved in patent licensing to see how often patent license demands actually led to innovation or technology transfer. We find that very few patent license demands actually lead to new innovation; most demands simply involve payment for the freedom to keep doing what the licensee was already doing. Surprisingly, this is true not only of NPE licenses but even of licenses from product-producing companies and universities. Our results cast significant doubt on one common justification for patent trolls.
Published:Sunday, November 15, 2015