February 1, 2013
Abstract: The Defensive Patent License (DPL) is a new legal mechanism to protect innovators by networking patents into powerful, mutually-beneficial legal shields that are 100% committed to defending innovation—no bullies, trolls, or other leeches allowed. It is designed to address the most broken parts of the patent system. The DPL also helps prevent adversaries from patenting open technologies and pulling them out of the public domain. It is an open source-style patent license that seeks to promote the use of patents to encourage freedom to innovate & to operate instead of using them to shut down competition, for rent-seeking, or to inhibit access to knowledge. This approach offers several potential benefits, especially to open innovation communities and/or start-ups: 1) A way to legally bind companies/patents to exclusive defensive use; 2) A way to allow those who are skeptical/critical of the patent system to participate without worry that their innovations will be offensively weaponized; 3) A way to improve prior art by filing defense-oriented patent applications that will preempt future offensive applications; 4) A way to prevent patent trolls from exploiting patents by preemptively committing them to defensive-only use; and 5) A way to provide access to a clear collection of patents that anyone can use for free as long as they are also committed to defensive uses.